North Carolina that is, not New Jersey. We made the long journey across the country this weekend to visit my family and meet our newest nephew. Two planes and a 4 hour drive later, we ended up on the Atlantic coast Friday night piled in a beach condo and ready for the ocean! We spent most of the weekend playing in the waves, laying in the sun, eating way too much food, and laughing with relatives. The weather was hot and ridiculously humid, which was almost unbearable for these dry air folks, but the company was wonderful and and the ocean always rejuvenates my soul. Although I left a little battered, (I took a boogie board to the face and have a nice shiner as a result), my heart is full! This weekend kicks off a summer full of travel, friends, family, and many memories in store.
This weekend we celebrated Derek’s birthday with a quick weekend getaway to Colorado. We spent Friday night checking out Palisade Brewing since we were staying the night in Grand Junction. The brewery has great beers on tap while also featuring local ciders and delicious sandwiches. On Saturday, we stopped at Octopus Coffee for breakfast before making it the rest of the way to Ouray. I had a bacon bagel, with bacon, and eggs mixed with bacon. WOAH! We made it to Ouray and checked out the local shops. I found a world necklace at the Silver Lynx that I am obsessed with. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the Weisbaden Hot Springs Spa. They have a vapor cave underneath their hotel that is like a sauna and hot springs in a cave with temperatures around 108 degrees. They also have an outdoor warm spring which you can enjoy while taking in the breathtaking mountain view all around. It was amazing and so relaxing! We split an afternoon snack of a poblano bacon burger with fries at Maggie’s, which is definitely the top 5 burgers I have ever had. We then had a brew at Ouray Brewing and ventured over to O’Brien’s Pub to have a few more drinks and watch KU beat Oklahoma State. ROCK CHALK! We decided to have some dinner at Buen Tiempo’s which was not amazing, but had delicious margaritas. After a stop Mouse’s Chocolate’s and Coffee for dessert, we finished the night with beers at Ourayle House Brewing (also known as Mr. Grumpy Pants) where we chatted up some locals and met Mr. Grumpy Pants himself!
This morning we had breakfast at Roast and Toast which had delicious pancakes and sausage and biscuits and, yes, more bacon. We hiked a portion of the Ouray Perimeter Trail near Box Canyon Falls. The hike has incredible views of the town in the bowl of the mountains. We started the drive back to SLC with a stop in Montrose where we found the best beer store ever, we brought home brews from Prairie, Grimm Brothers, La Cumbre, and more…so many favorites. And a stop for a wine tasting at Whitewater Hill Vineyards which had ice wine, something we hadn’t seen since Canada.
Derek deemed Ouray his favorite mountain town and I would agree. It was wonderful to escape to the Colorado mountains for a weekend, very relaxing and very fun!
This last year marked the start of a new decade of life for me. So long twenties, hello thirties! Thirty feels different in some ways than my twenties. Not necessarily in feeling older. In that area I feel the same. I still believe, and hope to always believe, that age is more a state of mind and being than a number. I can’t quiet put my finger on the difference of being 30, maybe it feels more distinguished, maybe I feel more understanding of who I am, maybe a little of both or something else.
I entered 2016 with the idea of trying to really mark my thirties by being present in important moments and meeting goals. In some ways, this task was easy. 2016 was filled with wonderful memories, travel, and new experiences that shaped the year and will forever be embedded in my memory. In other ways, it was difficult to really be mindful of the moments that stood out and overall I realized that I have been blessed to have another year that was pretty awesome. I have a lot to be grateful and that’s what focusing on these moments helped me remember every day. I’ve always believe that I have a lot in life to be thankful for, but this task of marking my 30th year with experiences made that so blatantly evident.
I visited several places I had never been to before Boise, ID (1), Chicago, IL (2), Flagstaff, AZ (3), Dinosaur National Monument, UT (4), Jackson, WY (5), Great Basin National Park, NV, (6), and checked another country off the list with a two week road trip through Canada (7). I did things I have never done before such as eating beets (8), trying ice climbing (9), dyeing my hair (10), staying in a yurt (11), eating oysters (12), making Thanksgiving dinner on my own (13), going night sledding (14), and cutting down our own Christmas tree this year (15). Some moments were goals I had that were accomplished. We grew our own garden this year (16), I swam for exercise which I haven’t done in several years (17), I climbed Little Black Mountain-a hike that bested me twice before-(18), finished a daily reading book based on the works of C.S.Lewis (19), and ran the most I’ve ever ran with 18.5 miles (20). This last goal I beat the first week of year 31 by completing my first marathon! There were also moments that were unexpected. I had quite the fangirl moment this year when I met Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter!!) at Sundance this year (21), my extended family grew with the arrival of another beautiful nephew on Derek’s side and the announcement that a nephew was on way for the the first time on my side (22), and I unexpectedly got served a meal from the refugee family we work with that consisted of cow stomach and testicles (23)! Yum!
And then there were the sweetest of moments, the moments of all around happiness. Derek and I got tattoos (not matching) on my 30th birthday (24). It was fun to experience that together and mark my 30th year permanently. On our Canada trip, we visited Banff National Park (25). This had been a bucket list item for both of us for awhile. It’s a stunningly beautiful place. I surprised my mother while she was here visiting with High Tea at the Grand American hotel (26). She was so happy and excited! It was a wonderful experience to have with her. In my professional life, I got to be a part of a client fighting for custody of his children after a very difficult year and finally succeeding (27). The moment he came bursting into my office to tell me he had been granted custody of his children with a huge smile on his face is something that still warms my heart when I think about it. We had the opportunity to return to Santa FE, NM (28), a place that is very dear to my heart. When we moved to Utah, I was sad to think I wasn’t going to be able to go there as much. Getting to return and visit all of our places was a treat. This year was also marked with numerous experiences with our refugee family from Burma (29). We saw our relationship blossom this year from volunteers helping a family to real friendship. Besides the meals of ball and stomach soup, we spent many Wednesdays throughout the year helping with homework, teaching how to pay bills, laughing, telling stories about our lives, and sharing in the joy of finding out they are expecting another child!
And the last moment may be this. Getting to sit and reflect on another year of life, on a new decade, on God’s blessings, and all the captivating moments that marked 2016 brings me joy. I will take a moment on the last day of this year and be present in my gratitude. I am so excited for what 2017 has to bring. I leave this year with this one thought rotating through my mind-Life is Beautiful.