New England Style

Over the holiday weekend Matt and I took a trip up to Boston. Despite the heat we had such an incredible visit. I think it was the first time that we had taken trip that wasn’t for a wedding or a “real” vacation. We just went to a different city, saw lots of great friends, spent time with our families and just relaxed. It was lovely.

A few highlights from the trip:

  • Walking through Harvard Yard for the first time in years. Literally, I think the last time I was there was in 2010 for our friend’s wedding!
  • Going to the Red Sox game. Thankfully our seats were shaded for most of the game or else I would have melted.
  • Spending the 4th with some of Matt’s high school friends & watching the fireworks from a roof top in Southie
  • Visiting our friends in Hingham and dipping our toes in the ocean
  • Buying our first car!
  • Eating burgers and hot dogs on the back deck with Matt’s parents
  • Hanging out with my college roommate, her husband and their new baby boy – they even trusted Matt enough to hold him
  • Spending the day with my parents in Boston – of course they made it educational by taking us to the MFA!
  • Getting ice cream from my favorite place (Cafe Podima) on Sunday before our bus home

Family

Fenway

Me

I need to extend to HUGE thank you to one of our friends who made the trip possible. He was kind enough to let us stay in his beautiful downtown Boston condo. Unfortunately he was out-of-town, so we didn’t’ get to spent time with him, but having a place to go home to made the trip that much better.

It was great to be back in the land that embraces madras print, pinstripe and Lilly Pulitzer all topped off with a Red Sox hat.

Family Vacation

This past weekend, my family took our first family vacation in more than six years. The last trip we took together was to Alaska and was definitely a high point in my life. This time, we took a trip to Park City, Utah for some skiing and family fun. To make things even more exciting, this was our first family vacation with Matt. While going from a group of 4, to a group of 5 proved slightly difficult, especially with all of the “quad” chairlifts, overall his addition proved to be a positive one.

Besides the incredible scenery, the beauty of Utah is that you there are so many incredible places to ski, all within an hour drive from Salt Lake. We skied at four different mountains: Park City, Snowbird, Snow Basin and Deer Valley. While Park City is close to our family’s heart (Abby worked there for a season back when she was 24 years old), I think Snow Basin is my favorite.

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Snow Basin
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Snowbird
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Snowbird

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Snowbird
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Park CIty
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Snowbird

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Snowbird

Snowbird
Snowbird
Deer Valley
Deer Valley

Back in 2004, when Abby was working at Park City, we flew out to see her over Christmas. Here are some of our pictures from that trip.  It is crazy to see essentially the same pictures 9 years later.

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Then – 2004
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Now – 2013
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Then – 2004

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Now -2013

Hmm, suddenly I feel old. And I realized that I need a new ski coat.

Thanks for the great trip family! I wouldn’t want to go anywhere with anyone else.

 

 

Fish Out of Water

This weekend, Matt and I decided to take a day trip out of the city. Living in New York can be particularly challenging in the winter. Unless you are a committed skier, you find yourself never leaving the city. And even though New York is a big city, let’s be serious, never leaving a 23 square mile island, filled with 1.6 million people, can make you a little stir crazy.

We tried to plan a weekend getaway to somewhere like the Catskills, the Berkshires or Lake Placid but our timing wasn’t great – with the combination of President’s Day Weekend and MA/NY school vacations, everything was booked. So instead, we rented a car for the day and drove out to NJ.

We drove out to High Point State Park for a little cross-country skiing. Although the north-east received a big storm only a week ago, a lot of the snow had melted so the coverage on the trails wasn’t great. However, it was well worth it – just to get out of the city. Oh yeah, and to see Matt on cross-country skis for the first time. That was fun too!

photo (12)

photo (11)

I Like Turtles

So let’s just ignore the fact that I haven’t been blogging lately. I know, I promised to do a better job leading up to the holidays. Clearly I lied. But don’t worry, I’m just as disappointed as you are. Let’s agree to move on and never talk about it again – even if it happens again.

While I would love to update you on my holiday travels, I don’t want to make my sister jealous of the incredible time that I had on our sailing trip around the British Virgin Islands.

beach

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Sunset

Plus if I mention anything about Miami and the National Championship Football Game, I think my husband and all of his Notre Dame loving friends might have to go back on suicide watch.

 

Tailgate

Giraffe

(Yes, there was a giraffe at our tailgate. Yes, I did freak out.)

So let’s skip all of that.

Tonight, I’ve spent the last two hours watching a documentary about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Animal Planet (now you understand why I haven’t been able to blog as regularly as possible. Very important shows like this…) The whole show is pretty incredible and definitely making me want to plan a vacation there. However, one particular segment stood out.

green-sea-turtle-24M2255-43(image from oceanwideimages.com)

Raine Island s a vegetated sandy island that is located on the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef, approximately 390 miles north Queensland, Australia. Raine Island is the site of the world’s largest remaining population of Green Turtles. On any given day more than 5,000 turtles visit the sandy oasis; however, at the height of their breeding, more than 26,000 turtles arrive on the island at the same time to laid 100 eggs each.

Turtles(image from seaturle.org)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(image from Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection)

So you do the math, even if some of the eggs are duds, the end result is still more than 2.5 million baby turtles. And you guessed it, all hatching and making their way to the sea at the same time!

I’m going to skip over all of the predator stuff – believe me, you don’t want to hear about it. But while watching all of this, I’ve come to a few conclusion:

1. I need to see a live turtle hatch at some point in my life
2. Herons are a lot meaner than one would think
3. Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for
4. I like turtles

 

Jazz Aspen Snowmass

We ended our weekend on a high note with good music, great friends and amazing memories.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass was absolutely incredible. Although I don’t have a ton of concert experience to compare this to, I am pretty confident that this festival was up there. Being outdoors, surrounded by the mountains, listening to great music – not much beats that in my book.

Friday night we saw Steve Miller Band and Sugarland and the second night was Trombone Shorty and Mumford and Sons.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Ryan. I can’t wait to celebrate 31!

 

 

Downhill

Yes – I’m still recapping our trip to Colorado. Seriously, it feels like we were there for a year with everything we did!

Our friends were arriving in Denver on Friday and meeting us in Snowmass that afternoon. So that gave Matt and I the morning to pack up, check in to our new condo, do some laundry and hit up the grocery store. Plenty of time to find in one more activity, right?

Since we had such much fun mountain biking the first time, we decided to do that again. Plus we’d heard that Snowmass had just opened some awesome trails so it seemed like a perfect idea.

At the rental shop, Matt and I were surprised to see so many people renting shin guards, wrist guards, padded shirts and helmets with face masks. In Telluride, we just rented bikes and helmets and were fine. Yes – I did fall a couple of times but I am not sure a face mask was necessary, I never went more than 5 mph! So when they asked us if we wanted the “safety package” we laughed and opted out.

When Matt and I took the bikes for a quick test spin around the sidewalk, we both immediately asked for our bike seats to be raised. The guys who worked at the rental store told us that they were actually at the right height, “since you aren’t sitting when you are riding, it doesn’t matter that much.”

Umm, what? No sitting? What are you talking about.

We took their word for it and headed to the gondola. As we rode up the mountain, I started to realize that Matt and I were the only people who didn’t have safety gear on. Everyone else was decked out in hardcore gear, while I was wearing spandex bike shorts and a lululemon bike shirt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was this just the different between Telluride and Aspen?

I decided to google “different types of mountain biking.” The results showed me that there are multiple types of mountain biking:  cross country (XC), trail riding, all mountain, downhill, freeride, slopestyle, dirt jumping and trials. What we had done in Telluride was cross country. Commonly defined by the terrain on which it is performed, XC courses and trails consist of a mix of rough forest paths and singletrack, smooth fireroads, and even paved paths connecting other trails. Cross-country bicycles are some of the lightest mountain bikes, typically between 15 and 35 lb. They usually feature suspension forks in front and sometimes have suspension in the rear.

What we were about to was downhill. Downhill biking is a time trial mountain biking event held on a course with a net decrease in elevation. As the name of this discipline implies, downhill races are held on steep, downhill terrain, resulting in high speed descents and, most commonly, with extended air time off jumps and other obstacles. Modern downhill bikes weigh between 30 and 42 pounds, and usually feature full-suspension and frame geometries that lean back farther  than other mountain bikes.

Suddenly, I was in a whole new world.

We began to make our way down “Easy Rider” a begin track. It took me a little to get used to the bike and after about 2 minutes of squatting over my bike (remember – you are really supposed to sit down) my thighs were burning. But even though it was physically challenging, and I was going ridiculously slow, I liked it. This was definitely something I could get into. and let’s face it, that face mask helmet makes me look bad ass.

 

After a few runs I was feeling pretty good about myself. So at the end of the day, we decided to take on an expert level course, Valhalla, the newest and Snowmass’ signature downhill trail.

And yes, you better believe it that Matt and I looked this intense going down it!

 

So look out, I’m planning to make my downhill debut at the X Games! Let’s just hope the sport is ready for me.

Maroon Bells

On our second day in Telluride, we decided to visit Maroon Lake, to take in the sights of Maroon Bells, two peaks in the Elk Mountains about 12 miles from Aspen. The view of the Maroon Bells to the southwest from the Maroon Creek valley is one of the most famous scenes in Colorado, and is reputed to be the “most-photographed spot in Colorado” and one of Colorado’s premier scenic overlooks. Naturally, we needed to go and see this view for ourselves.

We rented bikes and took a bus to the lake. During the ride up, we passed multiple bikers who were making the 8 mile climb to the lake. Suddenly we felt pretty pathetic riding up in the bus. To be honest, I blame the guy at the bike shop. Clearly he should have looked at us, realized that Matt was an Ironman, and suggest that we ride up. Unfortunately, he looked at us, thought “tourists” and gave us a pair of hybrid bikes and told us to ride the 8 miles downhill. Honestly – there’s nothing worse than being pegged as a tourist. You miss out on all of the “insider-fun.”

Once we arrived, we piled out of the bus (feeling very touristy) and headed over to the lake to snap a few pictures (again, feeling touristy).

Next we ventured down the crater lake trail, a 1.8 mile trail that brings you to another small lake/pond. More incredible sights means more incredible pictures.

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One of my favorite things in Colorado was all of the aspen trees. At first I thought they were birch trees (the state tree of New Hampshire!) but then I quickly realized that these trees were different.

The ride down the mountain was fun – we pretty much went the entire 8 miles without pedaling once. Weeeeeee!

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The Meatball Shack

For the second half of our trip, Matt and I ventured over to Aspen. The drive over was beautiful and Matt booked us in an awesome hotel, The Limelight. After checking in and showering off our failure from the 14er, we took to the town.

Aspen has a very different feel than Telluride. Gone were the small coffee shops and in were the high-end designer stores and trendy restaurants. While in Telluride, we fit in with our jeans and fleeces, in Aspen, we stood out. And not for the right reason.

After a quick drink at Jimmy’s (I highly recommend the margarita), we settled on The Meatball Shack for dinner.

 

This relatively new restaurants combines different meats and sauces into unique and delicious meatballs. We went with the classic beef with marinara sauce and the chicken with buffalo sauce. While both were delicious, I have a special place in my tummy for buffalo.

I wasn’t planning on ordering desert until I saw the menu.

Design your own cookie? Yes, please! Matt and I went with the original cookie dough with health bar  and salted caramel topping.

Oh yeah, and with a scoop of homemade ice cream on top. It was heavenly. And gone in about 2 seconds.

How didn’t I think of this idea? Maybe I can create the NYC version.

14er

A fourteener is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet  above mean sea level and Colorado has the majority of such peaks in North America – 53 in all. So naturally, when we started planning our trip to Colorado, Matt added “summit a 14er” to our list. So after a little research, we decided to tackle Mt. Sneffles, located just 7 miles west of the town of Ouray (the inspiration for Gult’s Gorge in Matt’s favorite book Atlas Shrugged).

After a short drive from Telluride, we arrived at the access road that wound 8 miles up the mountain to the trail head. Unfortunately our ford focus rental car was no match against the rocky dirt roads. We were forced to park our car a mile from our original plan, which added 2 miles to our hike. I should have seen this as a sign of what was to come.

 

We hiked up a rocky road for 3 miles. The views were spectacular but I was having trouble enjoying them. Even though the hike wasn’t super long, it was steep and the altitude was definitely taking its toll. I was pretty short of breath and started to suffer from a dull headache.

This brought us to the upper trailhead.

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, I was pretty tired and didn’t really want to go on. However, Matt convinced me and we started the last mile to the top.

The path went from a rocky road to just rocks. I felt like a mountain goat making my way over the difficult terrain. Our pace, which was pretty good up until this point, came to a crawl. I was definitely suffering from the altitude and kept needing to stop every 50 – 100 yards.

We approached the final stretch, a ridiculously steep section that was all rock. No longer were their switch backs or a well defined path. It was just, get up any way you could. To make matters worse, there were people who were making their way down the slope. Every so often, they would yell “Rock! Rock! Rock!” and Matt and I would jump out of the way of the mini rockslide. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best experience I’d had.

 

After making it 3/4th of the way up the last bit, the altitude, my extreme dizziness and the difficult terrain proved to be too much for me. I had to call it quits. Matt was a good sport — he definitely could have made it to the top but he turned around with me.

Even though the hike was difficult, I couldn’t deny the views were amazing.

 

We made our way back down, feeling pretty dejected by Mt. Sneffles.

We decided to turned the mood around with a sweet Call Me Maybe dance off:

It was nice, that after a very long, somewhat disappointing hike, we were able to laugh at ourselves.

The day ended on a high note when we returned to the car to find this waiting for us.

So we didn’t make it to the top — that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reward ourselves, right?

 

 

 

The Taste of Telluride

 

With all of the hiking, biking and climbing Matt and I did in Telluride, we got really hungry. Thankfully there were plenty of options to chose from. Here’s out edible tour of Telluride.

Breakfast Spots:

Telluride boosts a few bakery/coffee shops, all located within a 5 minute walk of each other. We visited 3 different spots during our trip.

The Steaming Bean –  An electric coffee-house by day that turns into a rowdy gathering place at night. While this seemed to be the most popular place in town, Matt and I found it to be our least favorite of the three. The breakfast sandwiches we pre-prepared and the service was very slow. However, the “cool” factor and prime location of this spot will definitely keep business coming in.

Baked in Telluride – With their wide variety of breakfast pastries, donuts and coffee this place was probably our favorite. That being said, they make more than just baked goods; they also offer sandwiches, pizza, etc. I am a fan of bakeries just sticking to baked goods and breads. I think it takes away from the atmosphere and the quality of produces to branch out too wide.

The Butcher and the Baker: This small bakery definitely had the best atmosphere. Unfortunately their food didn’t quite keep up. Matt’s breakfast sandwich was again, pre-made, and the oatmeal that I ordered was too thick and prevented the toppings from getting mixed in. But again, their cute decor and homemade napkins definitely spoke to my style.

 

Lunch:

For lunch we found a couple interesting places. Typically, we were eating later in the afternoon after our “activities” and as a result, were coming into the restaurants starving.

Smuggler Joe’s: Located near the base of the gondola this micro-brewery is convenient for a post-mountain drink and bite to eat. Matt and I came here after our hike to get out of the rain and enjoy a locally crafted beer. The food was very typical bar food – I ordered the homemade chicken noodle soup while Matt chose the chili. Then we shared a buffalo chicken sandwich and fries. None of these options were bad but we definitely weren’t blown away. The beers were solid – I had the Shred Betty Raspberry Wheat and Matt had the Strong Scottish Ale.

Floradora Saloon: Right on main street, this a family owned and operated restaurant and bar offers a wide array of dishes. Matt and I sat outside and enjoyed the burger and the grilled cheese. We both enjoyed our meals and left full.

Brown Dog Pizza: The walls of this sports bar/pizza place are lined with Red Sox and Patriots posters. Naturally we felt right at home. We ordered buffalo wings and a pizza. Clearly we were really trying to eat healthy! The service was great, the patrons friendly and it was a great place to watch some of the US Open tennis while we avoided the afternoon rainstorm – something that is a daily occurrence in Telluride.

Dinner:

In addition to eating at there… (we loved it so much we ate there twice!) we found a couple other places:

Siam: While Matt loves Thai food, what really sold us on this restaurant was the live music that was being played on the large outdoor porch. They had a very large menu offering both traditional Thai as well as some more unique dishes that blend exotic tastes of Thai Cuisine with recipes from around the world including France, Malaysia, India, North America, China, Greece, Italy and Japan. I had drunken noodles and Matt opted for Chicken Friend Rice. This was definitely a good meal.

Allreds: Located on the mountain at the top of the gondola, Allreds draws people up out of Telluride for the incredible views. Matt and I decided to ride the gondola up and enjoy a glass of wine at their bar. The views were truly breathtaking. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Telluride.