Moving East Road Trip: Denver to The Grand Canyon

When we planned out our move, we knew we wanted to tack on a few extra days in Colorado and the west before we moved east. Alex hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon and I’d only spent a few hours there last summer so we dedicated 2 full days on the schedule to exploring Grand Canyon National Park.

(Full route: Denver > Grand Canyon North Rim > Vegas > Vail/Beavercreek > Denver > Minneapolis > Milwaukee > Cincinnati > Pittsburgh)

I left work on Wednesday, wiping tears after a really thoughtful send off from my team, and after driving through our beloved Capital Hill neighborhood one last time, we turned in the keys to our apartment and hit the road. The goal: drive 5 hours to Pagosa Springs, CO in southwest Colorado. With a near-midnight arrival into Pagosa, we opted to scrap our car camping plans and find a cheap hotel for the night.

Thursday morning came early and we dined on hotel continental breakfast waffles before hitting the road bound for the Grand Canyon! Remembering the drive out of the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t wait to stare out the window and swoon over firey orange rocks along the route.

A video posted by lynne petre (@lynnepetre) on

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

About 2 hours from reaching the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Navajo Bridge which crosses the Colorado River and offers stunning views of the Vermillion Cliffs to the west and the river beneath. The original bridge, now the pedestrian bridge, opened in 1929 and with the increased volume of vehicle traffic, a new bridge was built and opened in 1995 which is why there are two nearly identical bridges over the river.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

Continuing on, we stopped at the Kaibab National Forest Welcome Center to get a recommendation on best dispersed camping spots in the forest, ideally with a view of the canyon and without a lot of people around. The campground inside the park books up 6 months in advance (and doesn’t have First Come First Serve camping, as the website indicates) but because the Kaibab National Forest abuts the park boundary, we knew we would be able to find camping in the forest and still close to the canyon.

We took Forest Road 611 to find a place to call home for the night and, after poking around a few different locations, found one that offered a pretty sweet view. It wasn’t quite the view we’d been expecting; we were hoping for EPIC CANYON VIEWS but instead were treated to views of the basin just before the epic canyon views. Regardless, we loved it.

View from our campsite

View from our campsite

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

A note about Forest Road 611: this is a mostly dirt road with some rocks (not large) and gravel; we drove our Subaru Outback but vehicles with lower clearance would be able to make this drive, too.

In the minutes before the sun rose on Friday morning, I rustled Alex awake and we hopped of our tents in our sleeping bags to watch the sun slowly rise over the horizon…

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

…and then promptly shuffled back into the tent for a couple more hours of sleep. I mean, it was vacation, after all!

Alex and I spent the rest of Friday at the Bright Angel trail, eating lunch at the lodge and driving 20+ miles out to Timp Point, far in the Kaibab Forest on the northwest border of the park.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

Timp Point came recommended for the type of EPIC CANYON VIEWS we were hoping for and it did not disappoint. To get to the actual Timp Point, there is a short 20 minute hike from the trailhead; we parked and hiked out to the point to check out the views before searching for a campsite.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

There were only a handful of spots in Timp Point and we grabbed a campsite with an excellent view of the canyon. We set up our tent, cracked open a beer and settled in under the shade with our favorite camping game, Farkle.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

As the sun sank lower in the sky, we tossed a frisbee which I hadn’t done in ages! We made up a game where we assigned points to trees based on their distance away from the ‘starting line’ (aka TreeNerf, for those who have car camped with us in the past year) and had a blast just goofing off like kids again.

Sunset from our spot was dreamy.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

We cooked sausages over the fire for dinner and talked for many hours into the night – about our favorite Colorado memories, expectations and fears for the next 2 years in Pittsburgh, thoughts about the past year of our marriage and hopes for the next year. The past year of our lives was hectic and we didn’t take much time for *just us* and we both felt it. That last night in the Grand Canyon felt like we reconnected and got back on the same page and was the best way to kick off our 2 week road trip.

2.DSC_0231Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

We turned in for the night (in the back of Subaru because there was lightening that probably wouldn’t have been a problem but I’m paranoid about lightening so made us sleep in the car), slept like babies and, in the morning, packed up to head out.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim //

Next up: Vegas!

Home is Wherever I’m With You (or: Thoughts on Moving Across The Country)

Pittsburgh Apartment //

We parked our Subaru in the parking lot of our new home on Saturday afternoon and said a silent prayer that the inside was just as we remembered it. Well, almost as we remembered it; Alex remembered a slight smell of ‘cat pee’, I only remembered the open, spacious apartment and so much natural light.

Taking a deep breath, I nervously opened the security door of the old house we would be calling home and we climbed the 3 flights of stairs to the top unit. Like kids on Christmas, we excitedly raced up our entry way stairs, anxious to see what was at the top. It was just as good as we remembered and no cat pee smell.

UHaul was closed on Sunday so we spent the weekend living out of the same packs we’d used for the past 2.5 weeks and slept on our camping sleeping pads, just as we did in Denver after we’d boxed up our belongings. For dinner, we walked up the street to try our new neighborhood restaurants and made notes of places to visit for special occasions because the grad school budget means more eating at home, less eating out.

As we enjoyed our last meals of ‘vacation’/moving, the reality of it all sank in. We’re in a new and unfamiliar city, alone. Just the two of us. And while I’d done this a handful of times – moving to Atlanta in college for a co-op job, moving to Denver with a very limited network – it felt scarier, heavier this time. Maybe because, at 29, I’m thinking about my/our future and my career more seriously, maybe because we’re taking on a new debt and reducing our income, maybe it’s the massive lifestyle change, maybe because it’s been 6 years since I’ve done this and I’m just out of practice.

But as I felt my mind start to venture to the dark side, I turned to my husband, my person of 9 years, and smiled. Unlike those past moves, I’m *not* doing this alone. We’re doing it together. We are renting an apartment that’s already my most favorite space I’ve lived, we get to explore a new city and part of the country and challenge ourselves in ways we can’t while living in Denver for 6 years.

There’s sure to be ups and downs as we navigate a new life chapter but, as sappy as it is, I know that as long as we’re doing it together, we’ll thrive.


Currently… (July)

Currently July //

…road tripping! (and enjoying it, except the leaving Colorado part)

…living out of our car (officially, we are homeless until August 1).

…savoring our last moments in Denver/Colorado for a while.

…picking up Philly from the kennel and heading (north) east!

…reading a lot when I’m not staring out the window at the beautiful drive (just finished this, now reading this).

…missing the routine of a ‘normal’ day a little bit and

…feeling ready to stop eating out.

…looking forward to doing all of the things the midwest has to offer! (Like the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Via Ferrata in West Virginia or canoeing in one of Pittsburgh’s 3 rivers)

…saying ‘see ya later, Colorado’.

See ya in Pittsburgh, friends!

Road Trip Check In: Hi from the Road!

Grand Canyon //

I’m currently sitting in a luxurious hotel room on the Vegas strip, savoring the comfort of a real bed and fluffy pillow before we hit the road again early in the morning. It’s been a terrific first leg of our road trip!

We left Denver on Wednesday night and drove southwest towards the Grand Canyon. We arrived late afternoon on Thursday and spent two excellent days exploring the East Rim, Bright Angel and Timp Point. We then packed up camp and ventured further west to spend a couple of days in Vegas.

We ended up extending our stay by a day to really maximize our relaxation time – once we leave Vegas, we head back to Colorado to spend a couple of days camping with a friend in Vail, then hit Denver to pick up Philly and lastly, we’ll begin making our way east towards Pittsburgh, visiting and staying with friends and family along the way.

When we planned our move, we made sure to include a week of ‘us time’ before we began the move east. The past 12 months have been really crazy and challenging – from me changing jobs and working longer hours to Alex’s grad school applications to planning and executing a cross-country move – we both felt it was extremely important to take time for just us before we move into the next chapter. I’m so glad we built in this time – it’s been almost a year since Alex and I did a trip or weekend adventure just the two of us so this was much needed and long overdue!

I’ll be sharing trip segments in blog posts once we get settled in Pittsburgh (much to share about the Grand Canyon!) but in the meantime, you can follow our trip on Instagram!

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later!

Moving Day! //

Today’s the day! I can’t believe it’s finally here and happening. We’re turning in the keys to our apartment, jumping into our packed car and driving away from our home of the last 6 (and 4) years. Surreal!

The past weeks have been filled with crossing off to-do list items, packing boxes and bags, saying goodbye to friends and coworkers and planning our long road trip to get to Pittsburgh.

I’ve been happy, sad, anxious, (very) stressed, teary, tired (so tired) but as the day is here and I have just a few hours left at work in the Denver office, I’m feeling excited. Excited about the 2.5 weeks on the road ahead of us, excited to see our families, excited to move into our new apartment, excited for the next chapter!

Denver has been a great home and I leave with no regrets, not wishing I’d done more in my time here. There will always be mountains I want to climb, trails I want to backpack but the good news is these will be here when it’s time for me to come back. For the next two years, I’m looking forward to exploring a new part of the country, meeting new friends and challenging myself in new ways.

So, cheers Denver! It’s not ‘Goodbye’, it’s ‘See you later’ which makes the leaving a lot less awful.

See ya on the road, friends!

(PS – follow our road trip on Instagram!)

Life Lessons of Rock Climbing

This week has been hard for a number of reasons you can probably guess (see: moving things). But through the hard parts of ‘real life’, I thought back to the multi-pitch climb Alex, Lucas and I did this past weekend. It, too, was hard for reasons you can probably guess, too (see: climbing things).

As I feel I’ve been very barely treading the water that is a huge life change, I thought about how much climbing lessons relate to real life.

Life Lessons of Rock Climbing //

5. Be confident; you’re stronger than you think you are. Physically and mentally. With a tendency to sometimes doubt myself, I had no option but to be confident and trust in my strength on the climb. Ain’t no other way to get off the rock! In real life and climbing, the challenges make us stronger. Be confident and tackle the challenge; it feels so good to come out on the other side and know you conquered something badass.

4. Never underestimate the power of a good shoe. I mean, enough said.

3. Remember to pause and appreciate the moment. On the climb, there were so many beautiful, tiny wildflowers along the route and I made a point to (take deep breaths and not look at how high off any ground I was and) notice and appreciate those tiny flowers. In the chaos of moving, I’m actively taking time to appreciate the small details around me: the smell of pine in the mountains, the found birthday cards from 6 years ago, the taste of a Santiagos breakfast burrito.

2. Surround yourself with good people. People you trust, people who support and encourage you, people who make you laugh. If you’re going to be tied to a rope together for 6+ hours climbing or spending your limited free time together, spend your time with people who make you feel good.

1. Breathe through the hard and scary parts. Panicky thoughts lead to panicky breath which makes is hard to focus on the task at hand. Breathe. In, out. Again. You’re safe, you’re strong and you got this.


Local Love: Soybu (+ a giveaway)

Earlier this year, I hit up the 4th Annual Blend Retreat when it was hosted in Boulder again (yay!) and one of my favorite pieces of swag was the Soybu Killer Caboose Leggings included. They were stretchy in all the right places and didn’t droop into the dreaded ‘diaper booty’ like so many leggings do. These leggings even stood up during a 4 mile hike in Utah!

Local Love: Soybu //

Because I loved the legging so much – and really love supporting local companies – I reached out to Soybu to ask about hosting a giveaway so help get their product into your hands, too!

Founded in Colorado, Soybu is an active fashion apparel line built on the principle that the only sure thing in life is its unpredictability and the clothing reflects this, able to transition from studio to street and everything in between. Given that this is the general attitude of Colorado where our outdoor clothing also doubles as everyday wear, Sobyu is a perfect fit for both Coloradans and active women everywhere who want to feel good and look good in their activewear.

(I enlisted my friend Alex Lin to help me snap some photos in downtown Denver.)

Local Love: Soybu //

Featured: Mira Tank, Taylor Hoody + Jennisa Capri

Local Love: Soybu // lgsmash.comAs a gal who works in a casual office and frequently wears athletic clothes to work, I love that this outfit fits just as well at 8 a.m. as it does at 7 p.m., after a long day at work and a lunch time bouldering session or late afternoon run.
Local Love: Soybu // My favorite piece of this outfit are the Jennisa Capris, hands down. As with the Killer Caboose leggings, these do not budge! The seaming helps keep the capris snug all day long and I love the gray pattern. The length of these capris is also spot on – the low-calf hit helps make these short legs look a tiny bit longer. (I might be tall…but no long legs over here!)

And for my long-waisted, short-legged sistas, the Mira Tank is a great choice. Before selecting a full outfit to review, I asked the Soybu team which of the tanks was the longest as it’s really tough for me to find a tank that fits properly and they recommended Mira, Cierra and Ariel. Wearing the Mira, I don’t feel the need to adjust it or pull it down every few seconds like I do with other, shorter tanks. As you can see in an above photo, it hits well below my hips.

Local Love: Soybu //

I also really love that Soybu is affordable and great quality! While there’s a time and a place to pay $$$ for active wear, I really appreciate a company that makes great clothing, that fits and looks great and doesn’t break my bank.

Local Love: Soybu //

So now! The fun part! Soybu wants to give you a pair of these Jennisa capris I love so much. Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway closes on Sunday, July 12 at midnight MST. All entrants will be added to the Soybu email newsletter and will be sent a 25% off coupon so if you don’t win, you can at least enjoy a discount! And if you’re in the Denver area, stop by the Soybu flagship store in Greenwood Village! (Intersection of Orchard and University).

DISCLOSURE: The outfit photographed was provided to me at no cost but I was not otherwise compensated for this post; I really loved the clothing and the fact they are Colorado grown and wanted to share the love! 

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 //

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 //

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 //

#LastHollaForPaula //

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’.