Travel

I live in Denver. My family lives in Ohio. My best friends live all over the country and I have a job that requires moderate travel. Needless to say, I rack up a LOT of frequent flier miles and hotel points.

Here you can find highlights from my personal and work travels.

Personal Travel

Work Travel

And below, you will find all Travel posts!

Hip, Hip, Ouray! (Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO)

Colorado is such a gem. There’s no shortage of awesome things to do, incredible places to see and the best people to spend time with. #Coloradocations are one of my favorite things to do over a long weekend for exactly those reasons. When a trip to Ouray, CO was suggested for the long New Year’s weekend, Alex and I hardly thought twice before jumping in.

It’s a long but beautiful 6 hour trek to Ouray in southwest Colorado. Leaving around lunch time, the hours passed quickly with podcasts and naptime; we rolled up to our VRBO rental just after 6:30 p.m. on New Years Eve. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

With our friends Lucas and Nancy, Justin and Lauren, we made pizzas in the oven, played ‘drawception’ and toasted great friends and fresh hopes when the ball dropped at midnight. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The next morning, we set our sights on our first adventure of 2015: learning to ice climb at the Ouray Ice Park. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The Ouray Ice Park is a free park full of super fun ice climbing routes. Much of the ice is man-made and it’s an incredible sight to see. There are more than 200 named routes and all sections are within a 10-15 minute hike from the park’s entrance.

As the park opened just the weekend before and we were there over the long New Years weekend, the park was pretty crowded. We were able to snag an anchor in the section called New Funtier. For this newbie, I was excited to hear that we could set up the anchor up top and hike down to the base. I was less excited when the hike down looked like this and included only a roped handrail. Talk about getting your attention!
Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The hike down was completely doable and looked a lot more intimidating than it really was, fortunately. Of the 5 of us climbing, 4 of us were relatively new to ice climbing but we found it easy to pick up. Unlike rock climbing, ice climbing is a ‘pick your own route’ type of climbing which makes it easy for climbers of all comfort levels to participate. Alex is a lot more fearless than I am and on the same rope, we were both able to climb routes that fit our comfort level.

Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

We spent the afternoon climbing and called it a day when the park closed at 4 p.m., just as the water faucets turned on to make new ice overnight.

That night, we opted to spend our first night of 2015 soaking in the Ouray hot springs. After spending a day in a chilly, snowy canyon, the hot springs were a welcome warm up.

It was hard to pass up a day exploring the town of Ouray – popping into shops, indulging in local ice cream. Such a perfect day relaxing and recouping from a whirlwind few months and busy holiday season.

On our last full day in Ouray before heading home, we debated driving out to Telluride for a day of skiing (my most favorite skiing!) or hitting the ice park again. Climbing won (no hour long drive, no lift ticket expense) and we grabbed our harnesses and helmets for some laps on the ice.
Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

Don’t mind my terrified look. I was mere feet of the ground but couldn’t find a hold for my foot…mini-panic moment. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

While I’m not the most comfortable ice climbing, I certainly enjoyed the experience. The Ouray Ice Park is one of a kind and really incredible to experience; I’m so glad we made the trip!

To note: If you don’t have the necessary ice climbing gear, there are a few shops in town that rent crampons and ice tools. I haven’t yet bought my own crampons so I rented a pair both days from Ouray Mountain Sports ($20) and Peak Mountain Sports ($15). There are also beginner seminars at the ice park and an intro wall where you can take a lap on a much smaller route than in the canyon. There truly is something for everyone – only requirement is a positive attitude, some gear and a love of winter!

 

CarMax for Car Shopping

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CarMax. All opinions are 100% mine.

Almost 6 years ago, I stuffed my post-college life into the back of a 1998 Ford Contour, affectionately named Connie, and set my Garmin GPS for Denver. And for the better part of those six years, Connie has been my go-to gal! We’ve driven through mountains, across the country to visit family in Cincinnati, to the US/Canada border to canoe through the Boundary Waters, around Utah and Colorado on ‘Coloradocation’. We’ve trekked to Keystone and A-Basin to ski, skis and snowboards delicately stuffed inside the car. We’ve spent so many hours of commuting together, jamming out to our favorite songs while we battle rush hour traffic.

Moving day! So long, Cincinnati.

Moving day! So long, Cincinnati.

Sleeping at the trailhead in the tiny Contour

Sleeping at the trailhead in the tiny Contour

Bound for the Boundary Waters, MN

Bound for the Boundary Waters, MN

In recent years, though, Connie’s been showing her age and Alex and I have started talking about what happens in the coming year(s) when we have to officially acknowledge that it’s time to replace my beloved Contour.

When we bought our Outback, Alex spent a lot (a LOT) of time researching cars, reviewing trim details and negotiating price via email with dealers. We knew we wanted a new-to-us, gently used car so we visited multiple dealers, drove multiple cars and, ultimately, found OsCar the Outback in Pueblo. While we’re very happy with the car, the car buying process was tedious and draining.

An option we’ve been looking into is shopping at CarMax. One of the two Denver locations is just a mile down the road from a Subaru dealership we visited a couple of times for test driving. Last year, it wasn’t on our radar when car shopping but this time, the hassle-free car buying process is very attractive to us!

Carmaxsmaller

Because CarMax entered the used car business to combat a perceived lack of integrity with the used car buying process, the CarMax mission is to provide transparent and honest experiences for the consumer. CarMax also offers low, up-front prices so there’s less need to negotiate (my least favorite part!) and their sales team is paid the same commission, no matter what car you buy – so there’s incentive for to sell you the RIGHT car and not upsell to a car that will bring in more commission.

So whether we’re living in Denver or somewhere else, we’ll be looking at CarMax - with 2 Denver locations and more than 140 nationwide – as an option when it’s time to replace Connie Contour. I mean, a streamlined, no-hassle, transparent car buying process? Sign me up!

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