Currently June //

…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 //

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 //

Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park //

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 // Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // 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 //

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 //

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 // Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park // Trip Report: Great Sand Dunes National Park //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 //

And…We’re Moving to Pittsburgh!

Moving to Pittsburgh! //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 // 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 //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 //

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 / (or at REI here) <– not affiliate links

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



Sponsored Post: No More Smelly Gear With HEX Performance

You know that really funky smell your athletic gears acquires – sometimes even after you’ve washed it? In our apartment, we have lots of smelly outdoor and athletic wear that, despite washing with a name brand ‘sport’ detergent, we can’t shake the funk. In particular, I had a pair of putrid synthetic climbing shoes in desperate need of a wash that truly rid the shoes of their smell. (I promise I don’t smell in real life…that much!)

HEX Performance reached out recently to ask if I’d be interested in trying their new suite of cleaners and I readily opted in. Per the brand, HEX Performance has developed the first and only system designed specifically to clean and protect today’s performance gear and apparel. Products include: Ultra+Dual Action Gear Wash, Power+ Laundry Detergent, and On Demand+ Spray and Go. HEX was developed by major league lacrosse player, Drew Westervelt, a professional athlete who knows first-hand how tough it can be to get those odors out of apparel and gear; you know if a major league lacrosse player can get a funky smell out of his gear, the stuff is legit.

HEX Performance //

I’ve only used the Power+ Laundry Detergent thus far but already I’m impressed with the output. I washed a load of towels Philly sleeps on and bath towels that have that ‘old towel’ smell. One load later and the towels came out smelling…clean! Not like the febreez-y smell of the detergent I use now, there was a noticeably absent scent at all.

Next, I decided to go big or go home; I washed my climbing shoes. Because they are synthetic and not leather, I felt comfortable throwing these in the washing machine with cold water and Power+ detergent. When I pulled the shoes out of the machine, I was so excited to have clean, not smelly climbing shoes! Success!

I’m excited to experiment with the other products too, especially the On Demand Spray. This will be perfect to ‘spot clean’ and treat my climbing shoes after a morning workout or yoga mat after a particularly sweaty class. I’ll provide a more comprehensive review once I’ve used all products a number of times.

Wanna try HEX for yourself? HEX Performance will be at all Targets in Colorado and Georgia this weekend demoing the product and handing out samples and discounts. Swing by your local Target on Saturday, 5/16 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. to check out HEX in person!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post and provided product by HEX Performance. As always, all opinions are my own.

Currently… (May)

Currently (May) //

…working lots of hours; rewarding hours but lots of hours, nonetheless

…feeling very sleepy in the mornings this week (almost enough to consider drinking coffee again. Almost.)

…drawing on my snapchats

…snuggling my puppy who has decided to start hopping up on the bed (yay!!)

…learning how to use a fancy pants camera!

…(trying) to meticulously plan out my summer (what do they say about ‘best laid plans’?)

…loving being part of a book club (keeping me accountable to *actually* finish a book)

…hitting up the REI Anniversary Sale to buy myself beautiful new climbing shoes

…looking forward to hanging out with some of my favorite BLENDS this weekend

Thoughts on Hosting Visitors

Echo Lake, Mt. Evans //

This weekend, my father-in-law scheduled a long Denver layover on his way out to San Diego for work and we spent 2 full days with him. Alex and I stressed about the right activities to do, wanting to make sure his visit was THE BEST as it was his first time out to see us and his first time to Denver as a visitor – he’d previously only traveled through Denver for work.

We ended up spending 2 terrific days just being together. We showed him our favorite restaurants, the parks we love, the gym where we climb, our old apartment, where our offices are. We ate great food and marveled how much construction is happening around Denver (SO MUCH!) and drove into the mountains to just be in fresh, mountain air for a few minutes before dropping him off at the airport.

So often, we forget that visitors don’t care about DOING ALL THE THINGS! They just want to spend time with the people they love, glimpsing into the lives we live in a city far away.

In a season of chaos and uncertainty in my life, it felt grounding to just BE and not DO. To just soak in the slow time together, catch up on hilarious stories and share our city with family.