Tag Archives: travel

wooly salamalanders.

21 Sep

About a year and a half ago, I spent 10 days exploring Peru.

10 days with a group of goofballs who came to be known as the “Wooly Salamalanders”, courtesy of the imagination of the one and only, Tommy Sims.

Well about three weeks ago, this wacky group of Wooly Salamalanders visited MY ‘hood and the goofiest reunion known to man ensued.

I met my fellow WSes down in Aspen for a fantastic day of hiking, picnicing, and catching up and though we haven’t seen each other in over a year, and frankly, have only really known each other 10 days, it was like we’d known each other our entire lives.

I truly must be the luckiest girl in the world to have so many amazing influences in my life.

See here, here, here, here, herehere, here, and herefor a recap on our epic trek across Peru!













livin’ the high life.

29 Apr

I slept with my window open on Monday night.

Not just cracked to let a bit of cool mountain air in, I mean, blinds open, snuggle under layers upon layers of down blankets and wake up with cheeks that are chilled to the touch, wide open.

When I woke up, I realized that it wasn’t Mayhem waking me up with a squeaky yawn, but rays of sunlight just making their way up and over Buffalo and Red, streaming in across my bedroom floor.

Those golden rays held the promise of Spring and immediately filled me with glee as Mayhem and I jumped out of bed and danced around the living room celebrating the start of a day that was sure to be filled with adventures in the sunshine.

Mr. A’s childhood buddy was visiting and the day before, in anticipation of beautiful weather, we had decided on a spring hike up to Kite Lake, located just above Alma in the valley below four fourteeners known to locals as the Decalibron loop (Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Bross).

We piled into my car, the four of us (my colleague, Ed joined us as well) and two pups, and made our way up and over Hoosier Pass and down into the tiny hamlet of Alma, known for Al-Mart, Alma’s Only Bar and of course its claim to fame as the “highest incorporated town in the United States”.

The road to Kite Lake was still snowed in, so we parked about three miles below the lake at the old Paris Mill and began our hike, trudging through heavy snow, fresh from Monday’s consistent showers.

I meandered a bit, taking in the beauty of the mountains and soaking up the rays and let the guys peel off ahead, bringing Abbey and Mayhem trotting along with them.

As I wandered, I took in the silence.

But for my own footsteps, the song bouncing around my brain (“Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog”, always Jeremiah and his antics while I hike…wtf?!) and heart pounding steadily in my chest, it was silent.

No trucks chugging up I70, no chatter from others roaming beside me, no pups barking impatiently as I bent down to tie my shoe.


I marveled for a moment, allowing my brain to soak in the quietness, feeling my soul relax and settle into the scenery. And then I heard it, music. An orchestra of sounds reverberating off of the stately peaks surrounding the valley.

The drip, drip, dropping of snow and ice melting off of towering evergreen trees.

The twittering of birds announcing the arrival of Spring, calling up their neighbors to dance in the sunshine.

The crash of snow sliding down steep mountainsides as the bright sun warmed the underbelly of layers and layers of snow.

The gurgling of a creek coming alive again after a long winter’s nap.

As I listened to the cacophony of sounds, I realized it wasn’t the trail that was silent, it was my brain. My thoughts, my impatience at moving forward, it was me that had become silent in the midst of the beauty and the music of the high country.


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christmas in the high country.

18 Dec

Every year I am tricked into thinking that this holiday season will be easier than then last holiday season.

That full hotels, new staff training, holiday parties, snowy winter weather and endless supplies of sugar cookies and snickerdoodles won’t get in my way.


This holiday season is just as wacky as last year’s holiday season AND the season before that; plus we are well on our way to being completely sold-out from tomorrow through January 3.


Anyway, in the midst of spreading holiday cheer (everyone knows the best way to spread holiday cheer…is singing loud for all to hear...) and keeping staff morale up in the midst of long work weeks and 12/13 hour work days, I doing my darndest to soak in the beauty and light of the season.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have got to be the luckiest girl in the world; and with Christmas upon us, I am so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who are so full of love and good cheer.

Merry Christmas to one and all!








xmas8 xmas9 xmas10

730 days.

2 Dec

Believe it or not, it’s officially been two years since my dad and I arrived in Summit County and met Erik at this “awesome little lunch spot'” (A-Cafe) for a celebratory sammie.

Coming into this little adventure, I truly believed I would be in the mountains for a season; just a quick hiatus from the “real world”, a chance to play and be “irresponsible” for a winter.

Well, about six weeks into my “hiatus” I knew I was in it for the long run.

I was hooked.

Hooked on the hot pinks and dreamsicle oranges that paint the sky with the early morning sunrises, hooked on the breathlessness (from the beauty and the altitude…) that washes over you upon reaching the summit of any one of the local 13ers and 14ers that stand guard over The County, hooked on the terrifying thrill I get when I looked down the chute that leads into the wide open bowl from the top of Mayflower Gulch and hooked on the people that live their lives without regret, like they have but one more day left to live.

“I’ll just stay for the summer and THEN I’ll get back to my career, to the real world,” I told myself, time and time again that first winter.

Well, after that first summer of sunshine, 14ers, long training runs and sailing on Lake Dillon…ok a few promotions at work helped too…that summer turned into my second winter season, which then evolved into my third winter and second Coloradoversary.

To this day, 730 days later, I am unceasingly astounded and unbelievable grateful that I have ended up where I am. I have been provided with some amazing, once in a lifetime career opportunities, met an incredible group of people that have developed into a fabulous little family-away-from-family and I spend my days doing what I love and living in a place that challenges me physically and stimulates me emotionally.

Colorado, it’s been a fabulous journey thus far, and I can’t wait to see what year three brings.

2 years

forever grateful.

20 Nov

The inaugural “Friendsgiving” took place back in November 2008 with a free 20lb turkey, courtesy of MMPI, bottles upon bottles of cheap wine and about 30 of our closest friends. We ate, we drank and we made merry with our new city friends, all while relishing in our newly acquired adulthood and big girl jobs.

Over the years, Friendsgiving has taken on many forms and has been hosted at a variety of fabulous Chicago walk-ups and houses. But after almost two years (can you believe it?!) and in the midst of a blizzard comparable to Chicago’s 2011 Snowpocalypse, Friendsgiving finally made its way to the High Country. About 20 of our heartiest friends ventured out into blowing snow and sub-zero temps to celebrate Thanksgiving a few weeks early, as most everyone who attended works in the ski industry and would therefore be working on the actual holiday.

We ate, we drank, we commented on the weather and the exciting amounts of snow being blown in by an extra low jet stream and we reflected on how lucky we were to be living in such a beautiful part of the country and working in an industry that truly appreciates the beauty of Mother Nature.

I for one, am so grateful to have each and every one of those people in my life. While I miss my family everyday, the holidays really pull at my heartstrings, but the laughs, the adventures, the exciting passion for an exciting industry and the spectacular support system found in this tiny mountain community are more than I ever could have asked for.

To you and yours, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings.

mountain time…

10 Sep

It’s been a crazy few weeks up in the high country. Between attending weddings, working weddings, managing a restaurant, managing a hotel, “recruiting” in the Tetons (ok…you caught me…adventuring in the Tetons 🙂 ), moving to a new ‘hood and dodging rainy days to bask in the sunshine of beautiful days, I feel like I blinked and it was September 10th.

It seems that the older I get, the faster time flies.

It’s like I am starring in my own movie and someone hit fast forward.

Anyway, albeit a bit busier than I’d like to admit, it’s been a good few weeks.

Here, catch a glimpse.

lenawee 4


Lenawee Trail, Montezuma, CO

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Lenawee Trail, Montezuma, CO



lenawee 7


Lenawee Trail, Montezuma, CO

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Lenawee Trail, Montezuma, CO



Celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Brockhoff, Ivanhoe Country Club

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Celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Brockhoff, Ivanhoe Country Club

gtlc 1


The Tetons from Leeks Pizza, Teton National Park

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Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park


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Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

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The Tetons from Jackson Lake Lodge, Teton National Park



Gillson Dog Beach, Wilmette, IL


Snow on Red Mountain, September 10, 2014

the peruvian chronicles, machu picchu

10 Aug
It was 6:30 on the dot when out of nowhere El Gato, our Machu Picchu expert, appeared in the breakfast room, nonchalantly perusing the assortment of breads while impatiently urging the Garbage Bag Brigade to finish eating, lest we miss our 30 minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu, the crux of our trek up the Salkantay Trail.
At 6:30am the heat and humidity of the day were starting to beat down on the tops of our heads, baking into our sunburnt shoulders. As we waited to load the bus, newly purchased bottles of water were passed among us, now a group of 13.
The day before we said our goodbyes to Richi, one of our ever-faithful guides during our time on the trail. The goodbye was surprisingly touching. Although we’d only known each other 10 days, it felt like we were a family. Hugs and handshakes were shared, kisses on cheeks, slaps on the back and promises to keep in touch echoed through the train station.
During our time on the trail, Richi tried to explain the feeling that overtakes visitors upon arriving at Machu Picchu and each time he struggled to find the words that would allow him to verbalize the emotion. It was as if the feelings were not tangible, like Machu Picchu and all that it enveloped were surreal, unbelievable.
As Richi was boarding the train back to his hometown of Cuzco, he gave me one last hug, whispering in my ear “feel it with your heart, not your head”.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
The next morning, Richi’s words bounced around my brain as our chariot chugged and lurched up the winding road that leads up to the most celebrated Inca site in the world.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
30 minutes and 10 switchbacks later, we arrived at the entrance gates of Machu Picchu. We disembarked and El Gato fought to create a path through the throngs of tourists loitering outside the gates.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
Finally. After a week of trekking through the Peruvian Flats, the Cloud Forest, coffee plantations and along the rushing waters of glacier fed rivers, we had made it to our destination.
Unfortunately, so had what seemed to be the rest of the world.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
Like a superhero whose powers consisted of warding off other tourists, El Gato toured us around the site, brushing off “hanger-oners” and clearing paths with a wave of his hand, providing the GBB a precedence in the learnings of our final “Inca class”. El Gato pointed out the imaculately carved irrigation lines created by Inca architects, the perfectly layered grassy green terraces, the smooth stones and the notches in each wall that held the stones so tightly that “not even a knife” could slice through the seams in the rock.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
As we finished the tour, El Gato thanked us for visiting his country and left us almost as abruptly as he joined us at promptly 6:30 that morning.
Wayna Picchu was our last climb of the trek. A winding, terraced climb of about a mile of carved “steps”, Wayna Picchu, rises up above Machu Picchu like a soldier laying claim to a conquered territory.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
As we climbed up and up and up, clambering over slick gray stones cut into shallow steps, the Urubamba River winked and laughed as it looped around the peaks like a coiled snake, the tangled greenery of the jungle taunting the most adventurous of the Machu Picchu visitors to follow one of the numerous trails into its depths.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
Suddenly, as we rounded our final bend in the switch-backed terrain the Earth dropped away and Machu Picchu appeared below as if a mirage, the morning sun creating a halo that crowned the ancient stones and grassy terraces.
“Feel it with your heart, not your head”
As I pulled myself up those last few steps, the events of the last several days unfolded in front of me.
A slideshow of moments flashed through my brain. The stories that had been told each night during “Inca class”, the relationships that had budded and evolved into true friendships, the breathtaking scenery that did more than delight the eye, that touched each and everyone of us deep within our souls, the incredibly rich culture of Peru and its people and the brilliant history of the Inca people.
As the memories washed over me, my heart swelled with emotion and I came to realize that for me, the culmination of my trip, the heart and soul of it all, wasn’t all about visiting one of the Seven World Wonders, no matter how incredible the history. No, for me the experience of meeting the people that breathe life into Peru, the sumptuous flavors of the food that awakens your taste buds, feeling my soul open at the wonders of glaciers that scrape the heavens at a dazzling elevation of 20,574 feet, the happy chatter of what was once 14 strangers and the greens and yellows and pinks of the jungle mingling with the grays of the stately rocks of the Peruvian Flats.
For me, the culmination of this adventure did not begin and end with Machu Picchu. For me, my heart started feeling when I woke in Cuzco to the sound of the ancient city coming alive outside my window.
Peru, you had me at Haku.


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