Just To Be A Sappy Lady For A Second

The 4th of July has always been my second favorite holiday (just behind New Years Eve), mostly for the fireworks. The warm weather, cookouts, pool parties, long weekend adventures and time with friends is always a plus too but it’s really always been about the fireworks.

And then 4 years ago today, Alex proposed while we were hiking in the Denver foothills. And then 3 years ago today, we signed our marriage license and, per the government, became husband and wife. As if it needed any help, these two amazing events further solidified the 4th of July weekend as The Best.

4th of July 2015 // lgsmash

As we are about to embark on this new chapter, it seems fitting that we’re here in Denver just long enough to spend one last 4th of July in this place we’ve called home, where the important things have happened on previous holiday weekends. And even more fitting that we head to the restaurant where we celebrated our engagement 4 years ago again tonight with our friends to celebrate Alex’s last official day at work and the beginning of everything to come.

Happy 4th of July weekend to the interwebz! Hope you enjoy good food, good friends and fun adventures this weekend!

First and Last Years in Colorado

As I was shopping for shorts a few weeks ago that are more age/work appropriate (ah, the joys of working for a startup!), I realized that as I close out my time in Colorado, so much has changed from my first summer 6 years ago and this, my last, summer. In 2009, I was wearing shorty-short shorts, as 23 year olds do; this year, I shopped for shorts that covered my booty and are much classier, as 29 year olds do.

I couldn’t help but think of other ways I’ve changed from my first to last summers here. I moved here immediately after graduating college and it’s been the singular place I’ve called home as an adult. I did my ‘growing up’ here: learning how to grocery shop and budget a salaried paycheck, buying a car (!!), building a community around me from scratch, changing my relationship status on Facebook from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ to ‘Engaged’ to ‘Married’ (I may have broken up with Alex after college, before moving to Colorado, in a showing of fierce independence.)

And while my interests/hobbies didn’t really change, the degree to which I did them did.

First and Last Summers in Colorado // lgsmash.com

I knew I loved the fresh air and outdoor adventures Colorado offered; I’d spent elementary and middle school years living in Denver and my family went hiking often while we lived here and the outdoors was a key draw for me in moving back. When I first moved here, I hiked on very short day hikes, knowing I didn’t know enough to do much else. Over the past 3 years, Alex and I took many outdoor classes with the Colorado Mountain Club to expand our adventure horizon. We took classes in Winter Camping, Wilderness Trekking, Basic Mountaineering and Ice Climbing, we learned to rock climb and honed our backpacking skills. The more I learned, the more we were able to do outside and it ruled! I know this stint in the midwest will be short; we are mountain people in our hearts. First and Last Summers in Colorado // lgsmash.com

Running was something I rarely did before moving to Colorado. In my world, running was reserved for sprints at volleyball practice only! But soon after moving to Denver, my best friend Sarah somehow talked me into signing up for a half marathon. We made a mini-vacation out of it and picked a race in Phoenix in the middle of winter; I was hooked after crossing the finish line that day! As the years passed, I transitioned from running on roads and paved paths to mountain trails. I’m certainly not a competitive runner and I haven’t been able to run long distances much this year but I still love the sport and running on trails. First and Last Summers in Colorado // lgsmash.comOnce upon a time, neither Alex or I knew how to ski or snowboard. In our first winter out of college, we met up in Park City with our friends and decided to give snowboarding a try. It sucked. It was really hard and, because our friends were so much better at skiing and snowboarding, it wasn’t very much fun for anyone. After Alex moved to Denver, we learned to ski and never looked back. I love skiing so much and wish I’d taken it up earlier (if only that pesky little factor called money!). I know skiing on the east coast won’t compare to the mountain west but at least there’s still opportunities to ski!

Life is nothing but an adventure with life lessons and growing up along the way. I have no idea what Pittsburgh holds but I’m excited to learn and grow in new ways.

#LastHollaForPaula! A Colorado Style Bachelorette Party

#LastHollaForPaula // lgsmash.com

#LastHollaForPaula // lgsmash.com

My friend Paula is one of the quintessential Colorado girl – she hikes, camps, skis, has multiple ski passes and never passes up an opportunity to be outside, in the mountains. Recently engaged, Paula is planning an (you guessed it!) outside mountain wedding that is sure to be stunning and a ton of fun.

So when her friend Katie sent me an invite for Paula’s bachelorette party, I would have been surprised if a weekend in a cabin wasn’t on the agenda. Katie planned the perfect bachelorette weekend for Paula – relaxing in a mountain cabin, hiking, festival weekend in a cute mountain town, dinner at a Colorado winery and lots of laughs.

In just a few short months, this gal will be married to the love of her life and I’m so excited for them!

If you’re a bride-to-be considering a mountain bachelorette party, Salida/Monarch comes highly recommended by Paula’s ‘Bride Tribe’.

Currently…(June)

Currently June // lgsmash.com

…aggressively working to cross off remaining Colorado bucket list activities before moving east. (Still on the list? Eat at the original Chipotle!

…trying not to stress about the last few weeks left in Denver and all that is on the ‘to do’ list.

…taking necessary measures: ending gym memberships, canceling library cards, submitting change of address requests, researching Pittsburgh, among other things.

…getting REALLY excited about 3 upcoming weddings for 3 beautiful lady friends!

…working my butt off at work (we’re in the thick of a really exciting moment!)

…feeling like I could sleep for a straight week (between work + moving prep, whew!)

…riding my bike to work today to ‘practice’ for Bike To Work Day 2015 next week.

…enjoying listening to the thunderstorms as of late (and listening to this song).

…savoring the minutes, hours and days, even the chaotic exhausted ones.

 

 

Trip Report: The Great Sand Dunes National Park

This past weekend, I’d registered to run the Mt. Evans Ascent…and then I failed to train so I transferred my registration. Then, Alex and I were going to climb with our friends…and then Alex burned his hand pretty severely last weekend.

Instead, we decided to drive south for a mini-road trip to The Great Sand Dunes National Park – far enough away to feel like a special trip but close enough to warrant a one-night trip. I’d only ever seen the sand dunes from the Oasis Campground (long story) but hadn’t made it inside as an adult and, knowing we only have a few Colorado weekends left, we rallied our friends, Lucas and Nancy, who are also moving away this summer, to cross this Must See item off our Colorado bucket lists.

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

As we were planning our trip and scheduling an overnight for Philly at the kennel, we learned the Sand Dunes is one of the few national parks that allow dogs off the ‘trail’; our pup was coming with us! Philly is her happiest when she’s outside and would be content to spend her days camping if we let her. (If only we could, Phil!)

We opted to camp at the Oasis Campground, about 4 miles from the entrance to the park. We’d stayed here previously and enjoyed the view as the campgrounds are up the mountain side a bit. Knowing rain was in the forecast (and after the flooding rain we’ve received in Denver recently), it sounded drier to be UPHILL than camping at the base of the mountains and dunes.

The weather report indicated a 50% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon but clearing later in the evening so we weren’t surprised to feel the rain soon after securing our campsite. After about an hour of thunder and lightning in the area, the system started to move out and we set up a tarp above the picnic table included at our campsite.

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

We played Farkle, told stories and drank beer. There really is no better way to spend a weekend than camping with close friends and pups!

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Alex loves the San Luis Valley because it’s a purported hot spot of UFO activity. As a person who is unreasonably afraid of UFOs and aliens, I was less jazzed about this fact but put my big girl pants on to watch the sky for weirdness with my friends. To my relief (and Alex’s disappointment), no UFOs were spotted during our watch.
Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

Sunday morning brought big blue skies – no rain! We packed up camp, ate breakfast at the lodge restaurant and drove into the park! Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

It was a fairly mild morning, mid-50s – the prior night’s rain helped cool things off – but we still aimed to be on the sand by mid-morning to help ensure our pups wouldn’t get too hot. Especially this little black dog.

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

Alas, the cool morning quickly warmed and we could tell it was time to head back to the stream that separates the dunes from the parking lot to give the pups a cool down.

If you’re visiting the dunes with a dog and want to hike to the top of the dunes, I’d highly recommend going very early in the morning or late in the evening to keep your pup cool. The sand was warm, not hot, but my black dog got really warm, really fast. (But she had a blast running on the sand and playing in the water!) There were many dogs at the dunes of various shapes, sizes and colors and all seemed to be so happy to be playing in a giant sand box. We did not put booties on Philly but if you own some and are considering visiting the dunes, it wouldn’t hurt to pop ‘em on. Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // lgsmash.com

She spent the whole car ride home zonked out in the back, the mark of a weekend well spent!

 

Marriage Monday: MBA Decision Thoughts from a Partner’s Perspective

Marriage: Moving to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

Post-Carnegie Mellon Snapchats

Going through this life change has been…an experience. There have been really big highs and really big lows for me. Throughout, I really wished I’d had a friend who’d been through a similar situation to be able to talk to someone who really understood where I was coming from and had been in my shoes as an independent, passionate woman balancing her own goals with the goals and ambitions of her partner. And if the internet is good for one thing, it’s cute cat videos. And connecting people. So this is my perspective on the experience thus far in case you are somehow stumbling upon my blog in looking for a friend who has stood in your shoes. 

This grad school journey was put in motion years ago; Alex always knew he wanted to get his MBA and 2 years ago, started preparing for the GMAT exam. It always felt far off in the future, something that I didn’t seriously keep on my radar. And truthfully, I tried to talk him out of grad school in the beginning. MBAs are a dime a dozen so in order to really stand out and have a solid return on our (expensive) investment, he was targeting the top MBA programs….none of which are located in Colorado and moving away from Colorado wasn’t high on my list of life priorities.

He narrowed his program search and applied to two schools first round, University of Washington in Seattle and Carnegie Mellon, each targeted for similar but different reasons. Soon after applying, he was notified that he’d been selected to come to campus for an interview with the admissions staff of each program, a critical component to the admissions process. The ball was rolling!

In November, we booked trips to Pittsburgh and Seattle on back-to-back weekends to check out the cities and schools. Each school is selling the student (and partner) on the program and city just as much as the student is selling the school on their qualifications. I found myself pleasantly surprised with Pittsburgh during our long weekend in November (fries on sandwiches and salads certainly helped) and really impressed with the Tepper MBA program.

Moving to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

The following weekend we flew to Seattle. Seattle holds a special place in my heart as we spent our honeymoon there. The long weekend visiting just further affirmed that it’s a city I could see us living in and loving; it has the food and beer scene, is progressive, has interesting history and culture and many businesses – both corporate and startup. Not thinking about the MBA programs, Seattle had my heart.

Alex left both interviews feeling really great about the conversations he’d had and we each left Pittsburgh and Seattle feeling good about the fact that for 2 years, we could see ourselves living in either city.

We then waited for another 4 weeks for Alex to find out if he was accepted to either program and on the same day in December, he was notified that both schools had offered him admission. Woo!

Now it was tough decision time. Alex was extremely attentive to my thoughts and opinions throughout the process and about which program and city was the right choice for *US*, not just for him and I appreciated that but ultimately, this final decision was his to make. After much debate and consideration, Alex officially accepted his admission to Carnegie Mellon in January and the journey got THAT MUCH more real. Holy shit…Pittsburgh!

While extremely proud of my husband and the hard work he’s put in thus far, it was hard not to wonder, ‘well, what the hell am I going to do?’ I’m working a job that I really love and am passionate about and I wasn’t sure about the opportunity to work from home – whether it was even an option or if it was one I wanted. I knew I wanted to stay with Ibotta and I also knew I’d lose a lot by not being in the (very collaborative and fast moving) office. (I have so many more thoughts about this that I’ll cover in another post because, man, I’ve cried a lot of tears about this part.)

We talked through so many iterations of the next 2 years – one where I stayed in Denver for 2 years while he went to school, one where I stayed through the end of 2015 and then moved to Pittsburgh, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and was able to work remotely, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and wasn’t able to work remotely, one where I moved to Pittsburgh and wasn’t able to find a job right away, and on and on.

Ultimately, the right choice was for me to move to Pittsburgh with my husband in July.

For 4 months, I wished for a crystal ball to tell my what the right choice was, for Future Lynne to whisper in my ear and nudge me in the right direction. It’s a tough spot to feel like the choice is between supporting my marriage and husband and growing my own career and goals. Obviously these are not mutually exclusive and I can see that now but for many months, it felt that way and it sucked. A lot. My husband is the most important thing in my life but right now, work is a close second; it felt like no matter the decision I’d be compromising a huge piece of me.

In mid-April, after I’d decided that I’d be moving with Alex, I took a leap of faith and told my boss I’d be moving this summer and asked if there was an opportunity for me to work remotely. My boss and the leadership team approved my request so I’m extremely fortunate to be moving to Pittsburgh with the man I love while still being able to work in a job I love. With these key pieces in place, I’ve felt my stress start to bloom into excitement (slowly; there’s still a lot of sad!)

There’s still much to be worked out – both from a working-remotely perspective but also a holy-shit-we’re-moving-in-6-weeks perspective – but we’re riding the wave and making the most of the limited time left before this major life transition. The goal is to spend as much time with our friends and each other doing all the Colorado things we love one last time before we are officially Pittsburgers and he’s wrapped up in intense schoolwork.

So if you’ve found this post because you’re a partner (or potential partner) of an MBA student who feels the struggle of merging your life goals with your partner’s life goals, I feel you. And as much as I hated it when people told me this, you will find the right choice for you. And the right choice doesn’t mean you have to love it right away but you do have to find peace with your decision and embrace it as best as possible. I’m still trying to find peace and let go of the ‘what ifs’ and the career FOMO but I know that this chapter will shape me in ways I’m not yet expecting. I know this path is the best one for our family and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, ‘Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain or difficulty,’ so I’m taking his word for it. This journey is worth doing!

Moving to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

And…We’re Moving to Pittsburgh!

Moving to Pittsburgh! // lgsmash.com

This fall, Alex will start Carnegie Mellon’s MBA program so in mid-July, we’ll be packing up our apartment and moving east. The big move is still a few weeks down the road and we’re still working out the final logistics but I know these next 6 weeks are going to fly by.

It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity and, while it’s very bittersweet to leave Colorado, Pennsylvania will be a fun, new adventure. I know don’t too much about Pittsburgh or Pennsylvania but am excited to explore a new part of the country and add a new chapter to our story.

Much more to come as there’s been much going on ‘behind the scenes’ of this little blog that I’d like to capture for my own memory and share for the (possible) benefit of someone else’s crossroads experience.

Here’s to soaking up as much as Colorado in the next few weeks as possible and taking notes on any Pittsburgh connections, tips and ‘must see/must do’!

 

Local Love: Chuck & Don’s Pet Store

While not 100% local, this pet store has a 100% local feel and 100% Colorado attitude.

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

Chuck & Don’s is a pet retailer where the staff truly cares about your pet and their unique needs. They are passionate about pets and it’s obvious from the second you walk into the store.

In the hour I was visiting with Jess, the store manager, the store associates recognized the majority of the pets that came through the door and made a point to meet any new furry friends. They knew Philly immediately and even commented on her size in real life vs. blog photos (she’s much smaller in real life than she appears in photographs). They’d done their research and knew we liked running and camping together!

A bit about Chuck and Don

Chuck & Don’s started in Minnesota when when real life friends, Chuck Anderson and Don Tauer, ran a dog kennel and decided to start selling food, too, after many customer requests. The pet food business took off and the pair decided to open retail stores. There are now stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado.

What you can expect when you visit

The entire staff knows their stuff. These are not people who are just looking to make a paycheck; these are passionate people who care about animals and are incredibly knowledgable on all things pet.

With Jess, we started with the various types of food and their benefits while keeping Philly’s health in mind the whole time. As a pup who runs with me a few days a week and loves hiking and camping, I learned that Philly should be eating a food with higher protein. It was truly an ‘ah-ha!’ moment for me…of COURSE my dog needs higher protein food if she’s running around regularly. Just like I eat more protein after a workout, my pup’s body benefits from protein in her food too.

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

All pet food at Chuck & Don’s is high-quality and full of all natural ingredients. No processed or filler food.

A really cool thing that Chuck & Don’s does regarding food: after learning about your pup’s needs, they’ll recommend a food for you to try. If you take it home and your dog doesn’t like or has negative reactions to the food, Chuck & Don’s will happily swap it out for you until you find a food that works. They care more about your pet being happy and healthy than they do about selling an extra bag of pet food. And all those opened bags of food? They get donated to a local shelter. How cool is that?!

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

Chuck & Don’s also sources products from local companies to their market like Zuke’s, based out of Durango, CO and making treats designed for the outdoor dog.

We then talked about exercise and play time and pet’s needs during specific seasons (booties for hiking to protect their sensitive pads) and how to best acclimate your dog into running with you. Just like people, pups should gradually add distance to avoid injury.

Jess also reviewed the giant shelving unit of toys, too, as they literally have something for everyone. Have a dog with limited eye sight? There’s a mint-scented toy to help the dog find it. Need a chew toy that keeps a pup interested without the squeaking? There’s a ball with a squeaker in it that only dogs can hear. Literally. They have any and everything your pet’s heart could desire!

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

So many toys!

As we concluded the walkthrough, Jess told me what we discussed is exactly the orientation she goes through with new customers; she learns about the pet’s health and habits and makes recommendations based on those observations to ensure you and your pet have the best experience both in the store and in your daily lives.

The team at Chuck & Don’s sent me home with a massive basket of food, treats, toys and gear hand-picked for Philly to try; homegirl is loving the special attention!

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com A puppy donut for breakfast? But of course! Another local brand, Pawsitively Gourmet is based out of the Denver Tech Center and makes these cute donuts + cookies. See also: these adorable summer-themed cookies!

Philly really, really loves the food she’s tried with lamb in it. She’s tried the AvoDerm Lamb and Brown Rice first and gobbled it up first when mixed into to her normal food. This week, I’ve been feeding her NOW FRESH Red Meat Recipe mixed with her normal food and last night, she was spitting out her normal food to eat NOW FRESH first. Duly noted, Philly!

I’ll continue to review and share my thoughts on the other items included once we’ve had a chance to use – like this collapsable water bowl that will certainly come in handy this summer!

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

One of my personal favorites from the gift basket is this collar that comes with a matching leash. So perfect for a Colorado pup!

Local Love: Chuck and Don's Pet Store // lgsmash.com

I learned so much during my visit with Jess and the Chuck & Don’s staff; I knew just the basics of what is important when caring for my dog so learning about the various food options available and ways to keep my dog healthy (like to give her a dried salmon skin roll for Omega-3s!) was really eye-opening and I’ve definitely changed my thinking about how I feed and care for my pup.

And I’d be remiss to not mention that Chuck & Don’s loves cats and small pets too! So, cat people, don’t think this place isn’t for you too – the team knows just as much about your pets, too.

Giveaway Time!

Chuck & Don’s wants to give you a gift card to experience their store for yourself! I have a $25 gift card for a randomly selected winner. Because they currently are not selling online, this giveaway is open to friends near a store in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado (locations here).

I’m running the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below so follow the prompts to enter! Giveaway closes Monday, June 1 at midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Chuck & Don’s gifted me a very thoughtful basket for Philly however, all opinions are my own. 

In The Spirit of Spontaneity

Spontaneous isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. I’m generally a person who likes to ‘follow the rules’ and act on safe, benign impulses. Like picking a crazy color of nail polish. (I am struggling to think of the last time I was brazenly impulsive before this weekend!) But these past few weeks have been hit with streak of spontaneity.

Last weekend, after (not much) peer pressuring, I found myself at a tattoo shop getting my nose pierced.

Spontaneous // lgsmash.com

A photo posted by lynne petre (@lgsmash) on

I’d been considering getting my nose pierced for quite some time but wasn’t sure I was gutsy enough to actually follow through. After hearing that it doesn’t really leave a mark on my nose if I decided to take it out in the future, I was sold. Heidi, Paige and I stopped in a local shop in Boulder during the Blend Retreat and Heidi and I walked out with new jewelry in our noses. (A true ‘safe’ spontaneous decision = if I hate my spontaneous nose piercing, I can take it out with limited repercussions.)

Following up that spontaneous weekend decision is another slightly spontaneous activity! This weekend, we’re dropping Philly off at her favorite kennel, leaving work early and hitting the road for Salt Lake City! Our good friend Alex will be checking out the city as a potential future home so we decided a quick 8 hour drive to spend a few quality days with our friend was the right choice. It’s a long drive but I’m excited about the micro-advenutre (despite the rain in the forecast in SLC).

Catch ya later, Denver!

#ORInsightLab Review: Women’s Ferrosi Hoody

Disclosure: I’m participating in Outdoor Research’s (OR) #ORInsightLab to help test gear and offer feedback. This shell jacket was provided to me at no cost but, as always, opinions are my own. You can find my other OR Insight Lab reviews here.

ORInsightLab Ferosi Hoody //lgsmash.com

The past few weeks have been unusually gray and rainy in Denver. While many people are grumbling about living in Seattle, I’ve enjoyed the change of pace and know our state could use the rain (but wonder why this moisture couldn’t have graced us a few months earlier for ski season!). I’ll admit it’s a bit weird to be 45* a few days before Memorial Day but summer will show up soon.

The misty rain has given me a great opportunity to put the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody to the test with wet pre- and post-work running in Denver.

#ORInsightLab Ferosi Hoody // lgsmash

The first thing I noticed about this jacket is how lightweight it is. At only 11 oz., this jacket is super light and incredibly comfortable to wear; it also fits into the tiny little spaces in a very full pack for a climbing or backpacking trip.

I also really love the stretch and flex this jacket has. I expected the nylon/spandex body to be flexible but I really appreciated how stretchy the jacket actually is. While it’s been too rainy to go climbing, I’m really excited to climb outside in the coming weeks with this jacket

ORInsightLab Ferosi Hoody //lgsmash.com

This weekend at the 2015 Blend Retreat in Boulder, I wore the Ferrosi jacket on 2 day hikes – first, in the morning when it was a bit chilly as the sun warmed the air and second, when it was windy on top of the Flatirons trail as weather began blowing in. In both instances, I appreciated how the Ferrosi performed, keeping me warm but not overheated – the Ferrosi jacket is super breathable!

The upcoming weeks (er, weekends) bring with it exciting adventure plans – a road trip to Salt Lake City, Colorado rock climbing and 14er peak bagging – all of which are perfect for this lightweight, durable soft shell jacket. Count on an end-of-summer update for this jacket, too, when I’ll share exactly how this jacket held up.

Cairn Jumping // lgsmash.com

Overall thoughts? Really digging this lightweight softshell jacket. The breathability of this jacket to help keep you from overheating when exerting effort in windy or rainy weather is much appreciated!

Buy it: Women’s Ferrosi Hoody / outdoorresearch.com (or at REI here) <– not affiliate links

And, just for fun, a jumping gif in a cairn field in Boulder.

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