On Endings and New Beginnings

Well friends, after 4.5 years of lovingly publishing my posts at lgsmash.com, I’ve decided to take up residence at a more fitting URL and I hope you’ll join me!

This blog has seen me through a lot and I’m proud of many of the posts I’ve published so this little blog will continue to live on in the interwebz but will not be getting any new content published.

I’ve enjoyed posting here and this blog has brought so much joy and changed me in ways I never expected but, to me, I’ve outgrown this space and rather than overhaul everything here, I’ve opted to start fresh in a new space. This has been a season of transition and growth in my world so moving to a new, updated blog space feels like the right move at the right time.

So hop on over to my new space on the internet, LynnePetre.com for the full scoop and to continue to follow along with the good stuff in a cleaner, more grown up layout!

Thanks for your support, community and friendship throughout these years on this space and I’m looking forward to continuing our friendships on my new blog.

Catch ya on the flip side, friends!


Currently - September // lgsmash.com

…savoring the rare free time my husband has in his schedule (like last night’s impromptu and wonderful date night, thanks for the free tickets to Jersey Boys from Yelp!)

…working from home this week because my bike brakes are broken (boo)

…missing the girls I spent a ridiculously fun bachelorette weekend with in Colorado and

…counting down the days to Sarah’s wedding!

…spending 2 hours a week at OrangeTheory Fitness classes (I’m hooked!)

…planning fall hikes and camping to scope out Midwest fall color in the coming weeks

…beginning to plan and think about upcoming winter, spring and summer trips

…wishing someone would come over and make me dinners (and breakfasts and lunches)

…drinking kombucha like it’s my job

…loving the Ryan Adams 1989 cd

…appreciating that our family is within driving distance while we live in Pittsburgh (and looking forward to a visit this weekend!)

…starting to truly feel settled in Pittsburgh (finally!); with work, with the new routine, with life (better late than never!)

Pittsburgh Hike: McConnell’s Mill State Park

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.comSince moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve been slow to explore much outside the city. With weekend visitors, school commitments, travel and settling in, it’s been hard to get out and check out our surroundings. And frankly, despite having a super long list of things I want to be sure to do, it felt intimidating to know where to start. (note to self: just START.) 

Living in Denver, I hit the trails at least once a week either by trail running, camping, hiking or climbing and, a couple of weeks ago, I realized just how much the lack of nature was affecting me and did something about it. Of course, the forecast called for rain all day long but I loaded up a small day pack and hit the road for McConnell’s Mill State Park, fingers crossed for a break in the drops.

As luck would have it, the rain eased into a light drizzle as I pulled into the parking lot and had completely dissipated as I locked up my Subaru to explore.

I’d done only a little bit of research before my trip; I knew the gristmill was a short hike from the parking lot and I knew there was climbing somewhere in the park. My goal was to find both.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

A short hike from Johnson Road/McConnell’s Mill Road parking lot, the trail to the mill is a packed dirt trail with rock obstacles throughout and full of lush greenery alongside. It was really beautiful and hard to believe the colors around me. I forgot just HOW green the midwest is!

The hike is maybe 1/2 mile from the parking lot and is marked with a blue reflector. It’s a well worth path and easy to follow along the river.
Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com Because it was a rainy afternoon, I enjoyed a very quiet day on the trail and inside the mill. I poked around inside and around, snapping photos and reading the plaques inside before deciding to continue further up the trail. (Note: there is also a parking lot right at the mill so visitors who don’t want to or can’t hike are still able to visit the mill!)

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

I ventured up another 1/2 mile southwest on the trail, past the Kildoo Bridge and falls; the trail follows the river the majority of the length of the park and, while there were no kayakers while I was hiking, I know it’s an option and I plan to come back and kayak along the trail I hiked.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

Kildoo Bridge

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

I turned around and headed back towards the mill as darker clouds started rolling in above. I made it back to the parking just as the sky opened up and dropped big fat raindrops on my car, satisfied in my short afternoon jaunt in a Pennsylvania state park. While I didn’t see the climbing spots I’d hoped to scope out, I know exactly where to find them for the next trip out to McConnell’s Mill.

Trip Report: McConnell's Mill, PA // lgsmash.com

See the bride and groom?

I drove back to Pittsburgh with a full heart; I’d found a small piece of what I’ve been missing so much in Pennsylvania. Trails and dirt; places to play outside. And over the coming weeks with no weekend plans, I’m penciling in a lot more park adventures to find beautiful vistas to view the fall colors. I can’t wait to see miles of reds, oranges and yellow; fall in the midwest can’t be beat.

Only 45 minutes away, this state park is an excellent choice for hiking, backpacking, camping and climbing. The park is 2,500  acres and is situated next to a sister state park, Moraine State Park, that looks to have a beach(!). I’m pretty excited to have these parks so close to Pittsburgh and am looking forward to exploring much more of the trail system.

Trip Report: Swanson’s Arete, Multipitch Climbing in Eldo Canyon

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.comIn the vein of Throwback Thursday + the fact that I’m heading back to Colorado TONIGHT, I’m posting a trip report from my first multipitch climb in Eldo Canyon!

In July, a week and a half before we moved, Alex and I headed up to Eldorado Canyon (affectionately known as Eldo or Eldo Canyon), a famous climbing area just outside Boulder and a short 40 minute drive from Denver, with our friend Lucas for a 4th of July multi-pitch climb. Lucas has spent lots of time in Eldo and picked Swanson’s Arete to lead us up. Swanson’s Arete is a classic beginner’s climb, rated at 5.5 but much of Eldo is considered to be ‘sandbagged’ or rated at a lower difficulty than many perceive it to be.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Parking shortly after sunrise made for a cool hike into the canyon. A really cool thing about Eldo is that routes start right off the road so as park visitors drive through the main drag (or as climbers trek in), they can marvel at the routes being climbed just outside their window.

We hiked in about 20 minutes, gaining significant elevation in the short, ~.5 mile hike, and arrived at the base of our climb. Our route: Rewritten > Swanson’s Arete

Lucas briefed us on what do expect in the first pitch (‘take your pack off when you get to the chimney’) and up he went. We’d opted to ‘caterpillar climb’ meaning Lucas would climb, Alex would belay from below; then Alex would climb and Lucas would belay from above; lastly, I would climb and Alex would belay from above.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Going in to this climb, I was pretty stressed with the chaos of moving and had a hard time getting into the right headspace. As any climber knows, confidence, focus and determination are integral to your success and I spent much of the first pitch struggling to get a handle on my brain. It had helped watching Lucas and Alex head up before me because I was able to plan my route while I waited for my turn.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

P1 was not my favorite; it looked a lot easier than it was and, with a lack of confidence, I slipped halfway up the pitch and fell partway back down the route. Which shook me up and put more doubt in my mind about if I’d be able to finish this climb. I let myself have a few moments of panic, realizing that the only way to get through it was to go up, before I refocused and found my determination. At the top of the pitch is a chimney – something I’d never tackled before. If I’d been in a better headspace, I would have enjoyed this challenge but I did not enjoy it in the moment. Regardless, the chimney is short and extremely doable.

Fortunately, the belay station between P1 and P2 was a pretty large ledge so I was able to calm down and regroup and these guys had room to snap selfies.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

P2 brought us through Swanson’s Arete and, again, Lucas gave insider tips about where we could find bomber holds and how best to navigate the arete. Lucas first, then Alex, then I climbed; I flew through this pitch and found myself really enjoying it. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in sight and I made sure to pay close attention to my surroundings; this was to be my last outdoor climbing in Colorado for a while and I wanted to soak it all in.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Getting my booty over Swanson’s Arete! AND SMILING!

And then…we got to the belay station of P2/P3. Airy belay stations are still something I’m not super jazzed about but I was proud of myself for (mostly) keeping it together. The team decided to switch from ‘caterpillar climbing’ to climbing in tandem where Lucas would lead and belay both me and Alex at the same time.

P3 had a funky start, immediately having to overcome a ledge with not-obvious holds, and I was thankful to have Alex there with me, rather than figuring it out on my own. It took us a few tries but we finally found the right hold to get up and over.

The rest of P3 was really fun with good holds and fun options. Alex climbed a few moves ahead of me and I was happy to summit shortly after he did. Success!

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

summit with a view!

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Quite possibly the internet’s worst summit photo

This was only my second multi-pitch and, despite my lack of confidence to start, I felt so much more comfortable here than I did on my first multi-pitch on the Boulder Flatirons. A combination of gym climbing + more exposure to exposure (outdoor top-roping, mountaineering school outings) really helped.

I can’t speak to the down climb as I was pooped and just following directions but I do know we followed Option 2 here. We did 3 rappels and had a super short hike back up to the crag before calling it a day and hiking back down the canyon to the car.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Back in the parking lot, we stopped in the ice cold South Boulder Creek to cool off before heading back into Denver.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com


Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

It was such a perfect ending to our outdoor adventures as Colorado residents; climbing in the classic Eldo Canyon with one of our best friends…not much more this gal could have asked for.

Healthy Living in Pittsburgh, Thanks to Grad School

This is pretty crazy but…since moving to Pittsburgh, Alex and I have both lost weight and are more active on a regular basis than we were in Denver. Partly attributed to a slightly more flexible/irregular schedule, partly attributed to a much stricter budget (#gradschoolbudget), we’ve made pretty big changes to our lifestyle since living in Pittsburgh that are proving to be beneficial for our overall health.

Healthy Living in Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

Cooking more at home, eating out less

Alex and I love to eat out and it’s easier to swallow the extra expense with 2 incomes. But with a single (startup!) salary, we’ve been very conscious about maximizing our dollars. This means a weekly, strategic grocery stock up (meaning: not buying lots of produce we ‘hope!’ to eat but only buying what we will actually use before it spoils) and eating 95% of our meals at home/from home. Not only is this great for our bank account and my body feels better not eating a bunch of junk all the time but it also makes eating out for special occasions (visitors in town, our anniversary) truly special.

Outrageous beer prices

You guys, buying beer here in PA is re-donk-u-lous. Like, completely insane pricing. A 6-pack of Bud Light is $10! Craft beer selection is limited and very expensive ($15+ for a 6-pack). We’ve learned that beer distributers sell cases of beer for a cheaper-per-6-pack price but it puts us out $35+. So needless to say, our beer consumption is way down. Good for the wallet, good for the waistline.

Biking and walking everywhere

Pittsburgh is a smallish big city and is very neighborhood-centric. We live within 2 miles of pretty much anything we need – work/school, the grocery store, yoga and restaurants. Because everything is so close, I walk or bike most everywhere. Added bonus: Pittsburgh is frickin’ hilly which adds an additional level of butt kicking.

And because I work remotely, I have been making it a point to separate from work and my computer and take care of me, too. This past month, it’s been making time for yoga and running at least 3 times a week. This was always a goal in Denver but it was easy to stay at the office too long or make excuses in the morning when the alarm went off. But here? No excuses!

It feels pretty good to be starting off our time in Pittsburgh on the this foot because, as found found in Denver, it’s easy to settle into an unhealthy, less active routine when life gets busy. Forming these new habits now means continued success while we’re here (and beyond!).


Up Next: Exploring Fitness and Adventure in Pittsburgh

So, now the heavy stuff is outta the way and I am squarely back in my regular brain space, let’s talk about Pittsburgh.

Admittedly, when we decided to move to Pittsburgh, I definitely groaned in protest.

‘But it’s the midwest! No one is active in the midwest. How will I find friends to go camping, rock climbing or running with?’

I’m pretty sure that’s the general consensus from everyone in the Mountain West thinking of everywhere east because, you know, there are no mountains here! :)

In the short time I’ve been living here, though, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. So many people are active here! No matter what time of day or the percentage of humidity in the air, there are ALWAYS people outside. And I’ve already made a friend who loves kayaking and paddleboard (Hi Chelsea!). And most everyone I talk to, local Pittsburgher or transplanted student, has a recommendation for where to camp, climb or run.

Active Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

I ride my bike to my coworking space (uphill in the summer humidity…woof!) and love how many bikers I pass to/from each morning and afternoon. Because Pittsburgh is a smaller city and the roads are a cluster, it’s easy (distance-wise, not hill-wise) to bike places; there are dedicated bike lanes here and, just recently, the city added a bike share program.

There are also really great parks that feel like you’ve stepped into the Secret Garden instead of a midwestern city park. It’s easy to forget that just up the hill is a bustling city street; you can’t hear the cars at all. I’ve only been to a couple but can’t wait to explore others.Active Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

And the rivers! There are always people out kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, boating, or triathloning in the water. I’ve never been much of a water sports person but only because I’ve never had the opportunity. Living in a city with 3 huge rivers, I’m excited to try ’em!

So while I’m still very much a n00b and don’t have much to share yet, I’m inspired by my FitCrasher friend, Meag, that in the time I have in the midwest, I am going to do my best to show the internet that Pittsburgh has a lot of active, healthy people and more outdoor adventures than one might think. You can expect to read about running up hills and running on trails, experiments in water sports, adventures in state parks and national forests, trials of unique fitness classes and more. I’ve got a fairly long list of places to visit and things to do already and I’ve only been here a month!

So I hope you’ll follow along as I learn about my new city and share the good, the bad and the adventure along the way.

Change Is… (or: Thoughts on Leaving Things Behind)

Change is // lgsmash.com

Change is scary, sure. That’s what everyone says. And while change can happy like accepting a job offer for your dream job, change can also be sad because it means, inevitably, leaving something (or a lot of things) behind.

I’ve spent my first month in Pittsburgh with a really dark cloud over my head. I thought I was working to adjust to my new life – and I was making an effort – but I was mostly mourning the loss of my old life, the things I’d left behind. Without realizing it, I was trying to figure out how to make life in Pittsburgh look and feel like life in Denver instead of adapting to this new life in front of me.

I wanted back all the things I lost in the move: I wanted free time with my husband. I wanted an office full of coworkers I adored. I wanted my friends who were ready to trail run, rock climb or meet for dinner. I wanted to not think about every single penny I was spending. I wanted to know where to camp and how to get places. I wanted not to get lost EVERY SINGLE TIME I drive. I wanted early morning climbing at an amazing climbing gym. I wanted happy hours with great friends who know the all the backstories and just get me. I wanted good beer.

(I still want those things.)

These past 4 weeks, I’ve cried a lot of tears in frustration and sadness because, surprise! Those things are not part of my life right now, no matter how much I miss them.

On Sunday, after a particularly sad morning and after dropping Alex off at dinner for school, I turned on This American Life on my local NPR station on my drive home. The episode centered around the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, 10 years after Katrina, and I tuned in during an interview with a woman, Jean Gibson, who survived the storm and has since rebuilt her life. When she responded to a question about her new life, tears streamed down my face as it felt like she was speaking from my heart.

Interviewer: And so it’s like, yeah, you have a new life. But it looks like a good life. Is it a good life?

Jean Gibson: Looks are deceiving. You make do with what you have and you try every day to get that other life back. Yes, every day. Every, every day. But it’s not coming back. But that’s okay, tomorrow coming. I’m going to be able to get some little piece of it. And then tomorrow come, and it doesn’t come back.

Piecing together my life in Pittsburgh to mirror my Denver life will never be the answer. That life is never coming back. And that’s okay!

If Alex and I move back to Denver in 2 or 10 years, we will be different people with a different life. If we moved back right now (or had never left), many of our close friends also moved away this summer so we’d still be facing a new reality and rebuilding community.

The best I can do now is remember favorite moments and celebrate everything I learned and became while living in Denver. It just clicked on Sunday night; I’m acknowledging that, truly, that chapter is over and as sad as I am to have left it behind, I have a choice: I can keep spending my days feeling sorry for myself or I can bring light in and cherish what WAS and embrace what IS.

So on this first day of September and after celebrating the beginning of a new year of marriage yesterday, it feels like a fresh start, a breath of fresh air. For the first time in 4 weeks, I feel happy, truly happy. I’ve sent my little rain cloud packing and, while there will probably still be tears on occasion, I know there will be far fewer. I will find great people to call friends and I will learn things about this city that I will come to love.

It’s going to be alright here in Pittsburgh; it won’t be anything like the past 6 years of my life but there’s bound to be a lot of great stuff that happens while I’m here and I’m ready to be part of it.

Currently…(August 2015)

Currently August 2015 // lgsmash.com

…working in a coworking space!

…riding my bike all the places and cursing the hilly Pittsburgh landscape

…making friends, slowly

…realizing we’ve been in Pittsburgh for 1 full month

…navigating this life transition, albeit, not as gracefully as I’d like

…buying beer by the case to save money (seriously, liquor/beer laws are so strange here.)

…putting together IKEA furniture like a boss

…painting said IKEA furniture like a boss

…watching This American Life on Amazon Prime

…celebrating 3 years of marriage tomorrow and

…looking forward to celebrating upcoming marriages of sweet friends

This month has been a doozy and I’m looking forward to welcoming September and figuring this whole Grad School Spouse + Working Remotely thing out just a bit more.

Moving East Road Trip: Venturing Through the Midwest to Pittsburgh

We left Denver on a Friday morning with our sights set on reaching Minneapolis that night but the 14+ hour drive proved to be too much. Because we had to drive the entire length of South Dakota, we decided to at least drive through Badlands National Park and add another park visit to our list.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

We drove up through the back way through Imlay and Scenic, SD, which was an interesting view of rural WY and SD but I might recommend sticking to the main route from Denver to Rapid City and entering Badlands from Wall, SD. Lesson learned for next time we’re driving all the way across South Dakota. :)

We stopped for the night in Sioux Falls, SD, just about 4 hours from Minneapolis, and slept in the only room available in tiny city of Sioux Falls (a smoking room, nonetheless). When the sun rose early on Saturday, we quickly packed up and hit the road, bound to see our friend Elizabeth!

Elizabeth and I are friends from the end of college but she and Alex were actually friends from much younger, tiny tot years. While Elizabeth and I knew of each other in college, it wasn’t until we had a class and were assigned a group project together that we became fast friends and I’m very grateful that, despite distance, we’ve remained so close and make it a priority to see each other at least once a year. So when we planned our road trip, heading north to drive through Minneapolis was a no brainer!

Elizabeth took us out on the lakes near her apartment and we rented a canoe to spend our afternoon lazily paddling about. Somehow, we convinced Philly to join in the fun and she embarked on her maiden canoe voyage.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

Canoe riding and swimming aren’t her most favorite activities but she was a good sport throughout the afternoon.

The rest of the evening was spent catching up over dinner and drinks in Uptown, Minneapolis and, per usual, our time together ended much too soon. Team Petre filed out early Sunday morning for our next city, Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, we spent much overdue time with Alex’s brother and wife and their 3 young daughters. The youngest niece was just a few weeks old and was as precious as they come.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com In between baby snuggles, we spent 48 hours playing with the big girls: running around the back yard, coloring at the table, dipping our toes in Lake Michigan.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

While kids aren’t on our immediate horizon, it was so much fun to be around mini-people and step into their world for a few days.

As in Minneapolis, our departure came far too quickly and we gave our tiny nieces and their parents big hugs goodbye and pointed our wheels south toward Cincinnati, where both of our parents and families live.

Alex and I haven’t been home to Cincinnati with much regularity since he moved to Colorado thanks to steep airfare prices so we made sure to pencil in 3-4 days in Ohio with our families. Outside of spending as much time with our families as possible, I had to main objectives: ride rollercoasters at King’s Island Amusement Park (and eat Smurf Ice Cream, obviously) and chow down on as much Skyline Chili as I could handle.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.comDone and done. Alex and I took my youngest sister to King’s Island with us and the three of us did not stop laughing the entire day. I even heard my grown husband squeal with delight as we rode The Beast; it was one of the best days. Because of the heat and humidity (ugh, welcome to Cincinnati), there was no one at the park so we walked onto every ride.

And Skyline? Oh man. I have missed Skyline Chili so much! We bought cans of the Cincinnati chili at our local King Soopers in Denver but it’s not the same as eating it fresh. I mean, that cheese!! I ate so much Skyline Chili in Ohio. #noregrets

We also had dinners with our parents, drank beer with older siblings, marveled at how grown up the younger siblings are, swam with grandparents and caught up with old friends. Usually when we venture to Cincinnati, it’s for a holiday and with both our families in the same city, our short time home is usually hectic and jam-packed. This trip, though, recharged my soul and felt so relaxing. Spending good time with good people will do that to ya.

To end our time in Cincinnati and cap off our trip, we made reservations for dinner at The Palace Restaurant, a 4-star restaurant in downtown Cincinnati where our friend, Nathan Sheatzley is the executive chef. 

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

We opted for the 9-course tasting menu as we couldn’t not try the full scope of Nathan’s work. He did NOT disappoint. Holy cow is his food fantastic! Alex and I have enjoyed Nathan’s cooking on our annual ski trips and other less formal occasions so it was such a treat to enjoy the food Cincinnati has been raving about. If you find yourself in Cincinnati and looking for a high quality meal that will delight you, look no further than The Palace.

Hilariously, Alex and I dined (much less extravagantly) at the Palace for our 1 year dating anniversary; this meal, 8 years later, we toasted 3 years of marriage (a month early but we celebrated nonetheless. Ya know, #gradschoolbudget and all).

The next morning, we ate homemade egg sandwiches at my mom’s house before saying our ‘See ya later!’s and hitting the road. From Cincinnati, it’s a short 5 hour drive to Pittsburgh; straight up to Columbus and then east to a few hours to PGH.

Saturday night, we arrived at our new home and have slowly been figuring out this new life, new schedule and new city.

Pittsburgh Apartment // lgsmash.com

And if you’ve made it this far in the post, WOOP! We’re almost there.

To any others facing a grad school situation, I highly encourage you to take some time to do something just for you before beginning school. Whether it’s travel or vegging out with Netflix, you’re embarking on a huge life change, regardless if you’re the student or the partner.

I was nervous to take 2.5 weeks off work for this move but am so glad I did. In our culture of HURRY HURRY! DO MORE! NO DOWNTIME! (and especially so at a start up), it’s intimidating to say, guys, I love ya but I gotta do this important thing for myself and my marriage and take an extended road trip to move.’

But half assing something like this brings the potential of starting off the next chapter on rushed, unsteady footing. And from what I can tell about grad school, there’s no slowing down from here on out. From an intense course load to a (likely) intense job, post-MBA, our road trip gave us time to pause and be with our favorite people, doing our favorite things before the chaos.

So with that, our summer road trip ends here, in Pittsburgh, PA where we’ll be back to regularly scheduled blog posts shortly – with less mountains and more midwestern flavors.

Moving East Road Trip: Vegas, Vail and One Last Day in Denver

After spending 2 adventurous days in the Grand Canyon, we ventured further west into the desert to live a bit lavishly in Vegas. I’d only been to Vegas for a work trip (boring) and the summer prior to visit my sister (fun but didn’t do the Strip) so I was excited to stay on the Strip and really ‘do it up,’ as Alex said.
Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The 4.5 hour drive flew by; we turned on a long podcast, stopped for lunch in Hurricane, UT (stop at Sonny Boy’s BBQ – so good!) and 2 short more hours on the road, we parked our car in Vegas.

We stayed at the Trump because Alex was able to snag a good deal on Hotwire but I would not recommend this hotel. It was nice enough but being off the Strip made it difficult to get to the ‘fun parts’ of Vegas very easily, among other things. Our first night in Vegas, we walked the entire length of the Strip and racked up nearly 20,000 steps on my phone’s pedometer!

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Originally, we’d planned to be in Vegas just Saturday and Sunday nights, leaving Monday for Zion National Park but after a crazy year and in the midst of this major life change, we both wanted to stay one more day in Vegas, relaxing. We checked out of the Trump on Monday morning and checked into the Venetian, thanks to a steal on Hotwire. We slept in, read books by the pool, gambled most of our Vegas allowance away just for Alex to win it all back in the last game of roulette.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Vegas was a blast and, just like everyone says, 2 nights of play time is enough; it was time to leave behind the hot desert and copious amounts of people, smoke and expensive prices for the wilderness.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The next stop on our tour was Vail to camp with our good friend Justin. Justin recently moved to the area to run a vet clinic in town but he’d already scoped out great camping in the White River National Forest (highly recommend checking this out, Denver friends!). We parked our cars shortly before dusk, set up camp and, most importantly, drank beer around the fire swapping stories of our past few weeks; Justin shared entertaining stories of mountain vs. city pet emergencies while we relived our time spent on the road.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

We’d built in one extra ‘free’ day into our schedule and decided to spend it in Beavercreek with Justin. Putting our new-found frisbee skills to use, Justin brought us to the top of Beavercreek mountain to play frisbee golf! Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Spoiler alert: throwing a frisbee disk is far harder than throwing a regular ol’ frisbee. I found that out preeeetty quickly and spent most of my afternoon digging through grass to find my lost disk. But it was fun, regardless. Any afternoon spent in sunshine, on a mountain, with friends? Winning.

After a quiet evening in Beavercreek, we packed up and trekked into Denver! Coincidentally, my brother, who works on Harry Connick Jr’s tour, and Alex’s high school friends both were in town on that same day so we made sure our trip coincided with theirs. We spent the afternoon at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with my brother, getting a behind the scenes peek at what goes into a major concert, and the evening with our Cincinnati friends, showing them our city and enjoying one last dinner in town at our favorite restaurant, Euclid Hall.

We had a couple of hours between seeing my brother and our friends so we drove through our old neighborhood and decided to stop into the State Capital, knowing there are free tours throughout the day.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

This was Denver bucket list item for me; for my 25th birthday, I visited the Denver Mint and after that tour, I’d wanted to check out the Capital, too, but because tours are only offered Monday through Friday, during the day, I hadn’t been able to swing it. Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The tour was really interesting! Only 30-45 minutes long, the guide shares many interesting historical tidbits and facts about how the building was constructed. At the end, tours are allowed up into the iconic gold dome and onto the viewing deck outside for incredible views of the city. It was a perfectly Colorado thing to do on our very last day in town. Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Early the next morning, we stopped by the kennel where Philly had been staying for the past week and officially began the easterly portion of our trip. It was a quite ride out of Denver, both of us just soaking it all in and realizing, HOLY SHIT. This is happening right now. 

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com