During the first weekend of February, Clay and I went on our first out-of-state ski trip to Denver, Colorado with some of our friends from college. The seven of us stayed at an Airbnb in Silverthorne (where snowboarder Red Gerard lives!) and had planned to spend two days skiing and snowboarding that weekend. The first day, we went to Breckenridge Ski Resort, where I had decided to sign up for an adult beginner ski lesson (finally). This lesson was long overdue since I had switched from snowboarding to skiing last winter and gone on three different ski trips where I had unsuccessfully learned how to ski. Breckenridge ended up being the perfect ski resort for a newbie like me. It was very beginner-friendly with runs that were long, wide, and not too steep. At the beginning of the day, I did a test run and was placed in a Level 2 group class. I had a great instructor named Lee who helped me master all the Level 2 and several Level 3 skills by the end of the day. The lesson went from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Despite it being an all-day lesson, I was still able to spend time with Clay and the rest of our group during lunch (hooray for our walkie talkies!). I was also able to join them for the last two runs of the day after my class ended. The second day, we went to Vail Ski Resort, where I decided not to sign up for another lesson. Unfortunately, the green runs at the top of the mountain were still too steep and intimidating for me. Since they made me revert back to pizza-ing instead of doing my newly learned parallel turns, Clay and I moved to easier runs at the bottom of the mountain so that I could practice parallel-skiing for the rest of the day.
Even though I was super anxious leading up to this trip, it ended up being a good weekend. I was able to learn some basic techniques and build up my confidence as a novice skier. Of course, it was a lot of fun to go with our group of friends and hang out with them at the end of each day. On our last day, we all got brunch in Denver at Four Friends Kitchen and spent an afternoon at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science until we had to check-in to our evening flight. After we returned home, Clay and I really enjoyed watching the 2018 Winter Olympics together. The U.S. teams rocked the snowboarding competitions this year! It was so much fun to watch Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, & Shaun White each win their Olympic gold medals.
Anyway, above are some pictures from our day at Vail. And below is a GoPro video that Clay made from both of our days at Breckenridge and Vail.
Some glimpses from our Tahoe Ski Trip 2018:
01 - Golden hour in Tahoe (taken as we were driving to our cabin)
02 - On the slopes at Heavenly with a view of Lake Tahoe behind us!
03 - Quick photo break as we were skiing to Lakeview Lodge for lunch
04 - Our lunch view from Booyah's at Lakeview Lodge
One of my favorite activities to do with my husband is road tripping, especially if they are spontaneous or semi-spontaneous. The past few years out of college, I've slowly grown to become a pretty big planner (and a very detail-oriented one when it came to my wedding / comes to traveling). So to be able to just throw some clothes and toiletries together in a duffle bag, hop in the car, and drive away on a semi-spontaneous trip (decided just a few days before) to Travertine Hot Springs in Bridgeport, CA at the end of 2017 was quite great. Other than wanting to seeing the natural hot springs, we had nothing else planned.
Another reason why I love going on road trips with Clay is because it gives us time to just talk with no distractions - no phones (Reddit for him / Instagram for me), laptops (work, e-mails to respond to, etc.), or TV shows running in the background - just us and the scenery outside our car windows. I remember back in 2013, the very first road trip we went on together was to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, which involved a 12+ hour drive. Later, another 12+ hour road trip we went on together was to Crater Lake and Portland. These days, we've come to accept that we just don't have as much energy for such long road trips anymore, so this 6 hour one to Bridgeport was just right. Just enough time to reflect on the past year and share our resolutions and hopes for the upcoming new year. Time to have some serious conversations about things that have been on our minds and time to just be silly/goofy/weird together in the car. Just for these talks that we get to have while driving, I am thankful for these road trips!
Anyway, we stayed two nights at Walker River Lodge, one of two main hotels in Bridgeport...which is really just one main street with the Mono County Court House and some other small restaurants and shops. Almost all of them were closed for the holiday weekend (or for the entire winter haha). Some personal highlights of our weekend included: waking up at 6:30am to catch the sunrise at Travertine Hot Springs, eating cheesy chicken alfredo pizza at the Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant, walking through Bodie State Historic Park (a historic gold mining town turned ghost town), and watching Will Smith movies together in our little hotel room. Couldn't have asked for a more chill, low-key getaway to end the year with.
Christmas 2017 Highlights:
01 - Celebrating the marriage of our dear friends Joyce and David
02 - Christmas Eve in our cozy little home with The One That Started It All
03 - Christmas in the Park with a cup of Snowman Hot Chocolate
04 - Hotpot dinner with Kim's family followed by Christmas gifts & Meet Me in St. Louis
Last November, Clay managed to book the very last campsite at the Furnace Creek campgrounds in Death Valley National Park. And a couple of weeks ago at the end of February, the elementary school I work at had a week of break, so we were finally able to go on our camping road trip! After Clay got off work on a Wednesday evening, we drove 4 hours to Bakersfield (where we stayed overnight) and woke up the next morning to drive another 4 hours to our campsite. Unfortunately, I caught a cold and got an ear infection at the beginning of that week, so it was a real bummer having to battle both of those while trying to enjoy our time outdoors. Despite all of that, I was very thankful for a much-needed time of rest and rejuvenation in nature. Death Valley was also a great change of scene from all of the Bay Area rain we had been experiencing.
Clay and I had some really good conversations during our road trip just talking about where we were currently at, as well as our hopes for the near and distant future. When we got to the campground, we were able to pitch up our tent and head straight to Badwater Basin, a giant salt flat that stood 282 feet below sea level (the lowest point in North America)! We spent some time walking around on the dry areas of the salt flat and then walked further until we were stepping over a thin layer of rain water that had collected on the surface of the basin. One of the first trips we had ever went on together back in August 2013 was to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Ever since then, Clay has always wanted to visit a salt flat post-rainstorm, so this was really exciting for us to experience! The reflection of the surrounding landscape on the water was beautiful. Of course, we took a ton of pictures thanks to our trusty tripod and ended up staying long enough to enjoy the sunset.
On our second day there, we started the day off hiking Mosaic Canyon, a 4-mile long out and back hike in a canyon with these really neat mosaic-style rock formations called breccia. Afterwards, we drove to nearby Stovepipe Wells Village and had lunch at their Toll Road Restaurant. Our next stop (after a one hour nap in the car) was the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was a lot of fun getting to switch into our sandals and walk to the highest dune, especially since we were the only ones further out in the dunes. We tried to imagine what it must have been like for the Israelites to wander around this kind of wilderness landscape for forty years...pretty insane. After getting back from the dunes, we rushed over to Zabriskie Point just in time for the sunset and then drove to Dante's View to get a glance of the view overlooking Death Valley just before it went completely dark. If we had more time, I would have definitely wanted to go back to explore and photograph the area around Zabriskie Point more - there are some really amazing formations and magnicient views of the badlands there. For dinner, we went to Forty Niner Cafe at Furnace Creek Ranch.
On the morning of our third day, we hiked one short mile to see Natural Bridge, which is exactly what it sounds like (I have lots of pictures of this one above). Then we hiked at Golden Canyon until we we reached a view of the Red Cathedral. The very last stop of our trip was Harmony Borax Works, a historic site near Furnace Creek.
If you don't mind dry terrain, I would highly recommend visiting Death Valley to see its salt flats, sand dunes, and canyons. If we ever get to go back, here are some other places we'd love to explore:
-Racetrack Playa with Sailing Stones (need 4WD)
-Panamint Sand Dunes (8 miles)
-Desolation Canyon (3.5 miles)
-Fall Canyon (6 miles)
-Ubehebe Crater Loop (1.5 miles)
-Twenty Mule Team Canyon (2.7 mile one-way loop drive)
-Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
Just capturing as I go.