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!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Grand Haven, Michigan

Last week, for the first time in my adult life, my brothers, sisters and I all met our mom in Grand Haven, Michigan for a week-long family vacation.

We started planning this vacation in January and knew we wanted a location near water, driveable for most of the group and near-ish to a major airport for those of us flying in. With people in Cincinnati, Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver, we settled on Grand Haven, Michigan. It’s a 3 hour drive from Chicago, less than 6 hours from Cincinnati and flyable into Chicago or Grand Rapids for my sister and I. We searched on VRBO.com for a rental house suitable for 8 people available for our desired week in July – as soon as I found one, I booked it and vacation was set!

We rented ‘The Retreat at 526′ through Grand Haven Cottage Rentals. Our rental started on Saturday afternoon and my family checked in and settled in. I joined them on Monday afternoon, flying into the Grand Rapids, MI airport – only 40 minutes away.

We really had no idea what to expect going into this vacation – no of us had been to Michigan for vacation – and we had an excellent time! If you’re vacationing in Grand Haven, here are some fun, active ways to spend your trip!

SILVER LAKE SAND DUNES

Grand Haven Vacation, Silver Lake Sand Dunes // lgsmash.com

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are just about an hour north from Grand Haven and is a perfect day trip activity. We packed some snacks and drinks and hit the road. These were impressive dunes – situated in the Silver Lake State Park, there are more than 2,000 acres of dunes to run up, roll down and lay on. The park also features an off-roading/dune buggy section that looked like a lot of fun. We spent probably too much time ‘long jumping’ off a dune ridge and racing each other up the sand hill but it was so fun. At the base of the dunes is the large Silver Lake, perfect for cooling off after running around on hot sand.

KAYAKING ON THE GRAND RIVER

Grand Haven Vacation, Kayaking on the Grand River // lgsmash.com

We rented kayaks from Lakeshore Kayak Rentals and spent a beautiful 2 hours paddling around the Grand River. Many company rent kayaks (and canoes and stand up paddle boards) and initially, we tried to rent kayaks from a company near Grand Haven State Park (close to our rental house) but made reservations with Lakeshore Kayak when the other place was sold out and we’re so glad we did.

The scenery along the Grand River is stunning – beautiful lake houses, lily pads littered along the banks and wildlife hiding in the tall grass. Lakeshore Kayak Rentals had a few route options for 2 and 4 hour rentals and can point you in the direction for the type of afternoon you’re looking for (ie – more adventurous, more relaxing, one with stops for kiddos to get out and play). Rentals were affordable ($48 for a tandem kayak for 2 hours) and the staff was extremely accommodating.

PONTOON BOAT RENTAL on LAKE MICHIGAN

Grand Haven Vacation, Pontoon Boat Rental // lgsmash.comFrom the minute I showed up, my mom could not stop suggesting we book a pontoon boat rental and on the last night, we made her dream come true. We rented a pontoon boat from a local company for a 2 hour rental in the evening and had an absolute blast. We were able to bring on our own snacks and drinks and the boat had an auxiliary input for music – we had ourselves a regular boat party! Just under an hour into our rental, we parked the boat and hopped into the lake, cannonballing and flipping our little hearts out. It was pure, unadulterated joy just being a kid again.

BIKE RENTAL in GRAND HAVENGrand Haven Vacation, Bike Rental // lgsmash.com

Many places in Grand Haven will rent a bike for hourly, daily or weekly rentals. Our rental house had 3 bikes for us to use and my family rented 3 additional bikes ($50+ for a week). Where we stayed in Grand Haven, biking is an excellent way to get around. We were just over a mile from the beach and downtown area with shops and restaurants. Grand Haven has one busy street that is a bit scary for riding a cruiser bike but the majority of the town consists of quiet neighborhood streets which are great for bike commuting.

Overall, we had such a blast exploring and playing in and around Grand Haven. The quiet town offered the perfect mix of active adventures and quiet mornings and evenings with really excellent warm weather with blue skies. As we packed up on Saturday to head back to reality, we all agreed that we will keep Grand Haven, Michigan on the short list for future summer vacations.

Knowing When To Say No and Knowing When To Say Yes

Long Beach - work travel // lgsmash.com

This week, I’ve been in Long Beach, California, for work. Since Saturday night, actually. This week, for me, has been a strong reminder to say no (and yes) and take care of myself.

In a weird twist, the mountaineering class that forced me to put myself first is also something I had to say ‘no’ to last weekend. Our Routefinding field day, second to last mountianeering outing, was Saturday but because of a Saturday night flight, possible late climb finish and definite early morning start (Alex left our apartment at 3:30 a.m.!), I had to make the tough decision to say no to the climb in order to take care of last minute work items and to not frazzle my poor little brain. A big climb followed by 4+ long days of conference exhibiting followed by another big climb this weekend is a recipe for disaster for this gal.

When I packed for the conference, I made sure to bring 2 sets of workout clothes. I was flying west, after all, so I’d definitely be awake early and could get a run or yoga in. I’d even tweeted a nearby yoga studio asking about towel and mat rental for a pre-conference yoga zen session.

Nope. Each morning, I opted to sleep that extra hour and said no to a workout. It’s been a while since I’ve been on ‘booth duty’ and this conference is the biggest one we exhibit at – early mornings, late nights and lots of socializing over happy hour drinks. While fun, it’s more draining than I remembered! So my running shoes waited patiently in my suitcase.

But yesterday afternoon, after we’d packed up the booth and the hard part of the trip was behind me, all I wanted to do was flop on my bed and relax with Netflix. And I should have spent my time holed up in my hotel room, making progress on work projects. But I said nope to both. I jumped into my running capris and #GetMovinCO tech t-shirt, asked the hotel staff for a running route along the beach and I hit the pavement. I spent 45 minutes soaking up the California sun and shaking off the stress of the past few days.

Long Beach - work travel // lgsmash.com

selfie on a beach with palm trees!

And this morning, instead of saying nope, I said yes to running a 5k the conference holds each year – in my 5 years working at this conference, I’ve yet to miss the 5k. I love that there’s a growing community of attendees that sign up each year and I’m happy to help support a healthy lifestyle. And when I think about the 20 mile drive back to LAX and 2.5 hour flight later, I’m glad I will have tackled a quick workout while I had the time.

So sometimes saying no is healthy. And sometimes saying yes is healthy. The true task is figuring out when to say each, owning your decision and taking care of yourself.