My First Trip To The Upper Left

A city built on top of a city surrounded by water and formerly known as the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest and the Gateway to Alaska is where I spent a long weekend last week.

Seattle was wicked cool, and worth the agonizing plane ride…kinda. The weather was gorgeous, sun shining for half the day and a cool haze for the remainder. It sprinkled a few times and I saw snow while hiking up Mt. Tiger!

On Friday I hiked it up to Kerry Park for one of the best views of the cityscape, ate BBQ inside the armory at the Seattle Center, walked through Sculpture Park, and finished the evening with a drink and an old friend at The Edgewater Hotel that has a view like no other. Sit in the lobby and order a drink during happy hour, you won’t be sorry.

Kerry Park, Seattle
Kerry Park

Saturday started at Pike Place Market with rows of fresh flowers, cheese churning across the street at Beechers and the longest Starbucks line you’ll ever see for convenient coffee.   The afternoon was filled with a hidden lighthouse and a bike ride down the boardwalk at Alki Beach with another spectacular view of the cityscape and futuristic Space Needle.

Alki Beach
Alki Beach

I got an early start on the day Sunday with a long hike up Mt. Tiger with the same old friend and her husband. But first, we made a pitstop at Caffe Ladro and got one of the best damn cups of coffee, ever. I went for round two on Monday morning, too.

Mt. Tiger, Seattle
Mt. Tiger

After the mountain whooped our asses (literally) and we refueled at a local Mediterranean eatery, they dropped me off at my hotel and I wandered down to Pioneer Square where I hopped on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. It came recommended and I too highly recommend it if you find yourself in Seattle.

Seattle is a city built on top of a city because of a massive fire and unstable (very wet) ground. This tour takes you down to the basement of Seattle where you can walk the old roads and learn the city’s history, like how The Emerald City was actually built by a woman and her…”seamstress” business.

I ate dinner at Petite Toulouse and got the spicy shrimp, homemade andouille and crawfish onto cheesy grits. The beignets are not like the ones you find in NOLA but they are at least the right shape. Also, STOP serving them with coffee sauce. I need raspberry!

Monday morning started the same way, at Caffe Ladro with The Perfect Bar for breakfast. After a semi-lazy morning, I hit up MoPop and got lost in its Prince, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction exhibits. Two hours later it was time to head back to the hotel and call an Uber to the airport.

The greenery and fresh air were exactly what I needed and I’m looking forward to more adventures this year. When I go back to Seattle, what should I check out next?

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (10).png

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Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VI

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I got my hurr did. 🙂

I’m starting to feel like a whole new woman, and it’s only been a few days. I got my hair and nails done. It’s amazing what a fresh cut and color will do to your sense of being. My rat’s nest hadn’t been unleashed from a bun or pony tail in over a year.

I was rockin’ an overgrown bob with dead ends drier than the Sahara desert. Woof.

I reworked my morning routine and started to feel more at home. After a cup of joe I’d throw the tennis ball for their two goldens. I’d go on the treadmill or ride a bike down to the beach, and in-between I applied and reached out to as many people, organizations and jobs I could manage before my eyes would go cross-eyed. IMG_5218IMG_5164

I was able to explore the freeway system. Yes, the infamous 405 freeway where the rest of America watched OJ Simpson flee police after the murder of his wife.

I’ve driven many places, but driving in a borrowed car made me more uneasy. If I happened to fender bender with anything, I’d rather with my own car.

I was pleasantly surprised the freeways are a helluva more direct than the construction fiasco ones in Texas. I think got too used to feeling like a mouse weaving through tight lanes chasing the cheese. I forgot it wasn’t normal.

The on-ramps were long, signs were clear and you had an ample amount of time to change lanes to get on the correct exit. Knock on wood, the driving wasn’t bad, and I got more comfortable each time I ventured out.

Feelin' the Pacific.
Feelin’ the Pacific.

I also got to dip my toes into the much cooler Pacific Ocean.

Palm Springs
Palm Springs

And I traveled east out to Palm Springs. Where the rat pack liked to vacation and party.

One week down, and hopefully only a few more to go. I want a job, I need a job, I’ll get a job. Why not me.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part V

By the second night, I was an expert on how to achieve sleep on a train. It also helped we were allowed to spread out, and I got the seat next to me back.

And a word to the wise: The train car attendants are there to do their job. If you want to spread out, just ask if it’s okay to move seats. They’ll more than likely oblige if there’s enough room and they aren’t expecting anymore passengers to board.

Smiley, and a few other passengers, thought it was appropriate to argue and raise their voices when the female attendant asked them to go back to their assigned seats. A majority of the unruly passengers were male, and I assume weren’t pleased about a female telling them what to do. 

I made sure to express my gratitude and that God bless her for keeping her cool. As a waitress, I know the public can be rough. 

***

I got almost four straight hours of sleep and then dozed off for another two hours. I felt like I won the sleep battle. I woke with a little over 45-minutes left of my trip, I was almost finished with my 36-hour Christopher Columbus-esque trip, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

As the train pulled into Union Station in Los Angeles, I almost leaped off the platform. I had a busy day ahead of me and a lot of unchartered waters to sail through. I was here to find a job, I was here to take a chance and make a change, and I was here to escape the continent (my couch) of postgrad depression.

***

Getting the star treatment with the FIL <3
Getting the star treatment with the FIL ❤
I had about four-five hours of down time before it was time to get ready for Habitat for Humanity’s Builders Ball.

It would be a great opportunity to network and put my name out in a sea of people who all had jobs and knew people who needed to hire, and that somebody could be me!

It was held at The Wilshire Hotel, also known as the hotel in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts stays with the handsome Richard Gere. Swoon. 

I got to walk the infamous Rodeo Drive in search of a Starbucks. We had been up since 3:30 a.m. and were going to need liquid energy to make it until 10:00 p.m.

Before guests arrived.
Before guests arrived.

The room filled.
The room filled.
It was gorgeous.

The ball was a first for Habitat, and its main purpose was to highlight the work it does for the community, the organization’s biggest donors/contributors and to raise money to continue the work it does for the greater Los Angeles area.

Oh yeah, and Magic Johnson was there.

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No big deal, right?

My first night in California I went to a ball, met some awesome Habitat for Humanity peeps and listened to Magic Johnson hustle people during his personal auction of two Laker tickets (floor seats), a signed basketball and jersey…

I have to say, not a bad start.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IV

I had the the whole day on the train, but it felt nice to know I was halfway done with the trip. Traveling by train is interesting and definitely something I can check off my bucket list, but I’d suggest traveling by train would be more enjoyable with a friend.

I went to the cafe car and bought some milk for my breakfast. I had brought my granola cereal and a few bananas to mimic my normal morning routine. The price of food is equivalent to eating at any arena events. To cut some costs, especially if traveling long distances, I would recommend bringing your own snacks and bottled water.

After I finished my breakfast I hung out in the observation car. The windows are larger and the seats are roomier, plus it’s an awesome way to break up the time sitting in your paid seat. I was still in Texas, but the landscape began to show we were headed closer to New Mexico.

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As the train stopped in El Paso, I was shocked to see what the real border between Mexico and the U.S. looked like….

I had traveled to Cozumel a few years ago and understood it was the touristy part of the country, but I had never seen the vast differences of the two countries side-by-side.

As I gazed down the rusted barbed-wire fence, it was apparent which country was which, even though the landscaping was the same, the way it was used was vastly different. Our roads were paved, cut into the mountains and rocky environment. Mexico’s houses were plopped on uneven surfaces up steep rocky roads. It looked miserable, homes barley had roofs or windows.

The fence was a physical representation of where dreams began and ended; a literal and concrete meaning of the “American Dream.” It was humbling to see it with my own eyes, and a reminder to not take what I have for granted. Not a single soul gets to pick what country they’re born in, and I should be forever grateful for my homeland luck.

***

The time zone changes were starving my stomach, because dinner kept getting pushed back later and later. I had also ran out of snacks. When my reservation number (you must reserve a dinner seat earlier in the afternoon with a train attendant) was called over the speakers, I flew quicker than The Flash to the dining car.

The waitresses assign you a place to sit and if you’re a party of one, you’ll be dining with four other strangers. It was a bit odd at first because I sat with three other older gentlemen. One was from England while the other two were Americans.

Halfway through my meal, the man sitting in front of me asked why I was on the train and where I was headed (a normal conversation starter while traveling by train). I gave an edited version of my reasons and of hopes to find a job in California. After learning of my recent graduation he asked what I got my degree in and what I wanted to do.

I expressed my passion for nonprofits, how I had worked for the American Red Cross over the summer and enjoyed every minute assisting during disaster relief efforts and writing blogs for the organization. His response, I kid you not was:

“Man, you sound like the perfect politician. A writer and spin doctor who enjoys working for crooks,” said Mr. Arrogant American.

My other two dining car buddies immediately shoveled more rice and salad into their stomachs. A zillion remarks zipped through my head in the matter of milliseconds. Instead of educating him or throwing my plate at his head, I resorted to a sarcastic quip about how it’s a shame so many people are uninformed.

#winning

Dinner was okay, I questioned how much of the chicken was chicken, but I was too hungry to truly care. I had one more night’s sleep in a coach seat, a few more movies to watch, and then I’d be greeted by my in-laws on the platform where my journey to what opportunities I could create in California would begin.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part III

The past few hours have been interesting. I finally mustered up the courage to leave my seat and use the restroom. I didn’t fall down the stairs, or up them for that matter and all of my possessions were still sitting where I left them.

When I ventured to the cafe car, I did make a fool of myself, naturally. I couldn’t figure out how the door that separated one train car from the next opened. Mind you, there was a huge button in the middle of the door that said PUSH. When I pushed nothing happened, so I tried to open the contraption like a sliding class door. Nothing. So I tried again and then again. After what felt like forever I finally punched the button that said push and it opened …..

A crew member was on the other side watching me struggle and I muttered, “sorry, apparently I can’t read,” as I walked by. I could do nothing but laugh, typical Shannon move.

My train, and I couldn't help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of ...
My train, and I couldn’t help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of …

The train stopped in Austin, Texas, by far the biggest city we’ve trucked through, and I soon found out a bigger city means more people waiting to board the train. I lost the seat next to me and am now making friends with an older women who’s headed up to San Fransisco.

She takes the train every time she travels to Oklahoma to see her sister. And even with my fear of flying, I tell myself she’s nuts for taking this long of a trip twice a year. I realize I might have to suck it up and fly if I can’t find a job in California. There’s no way I’d want to wait two days to see my Hubs again. 

I figure my passenger buddy lottery lucked out and at least I didn’t get stuck with someone creepy. After all, I will be sleeping next to this person for the rest of the night. We are now parked in San Antonio waiting for another train to arrive that we’ll hook up to, to make the rest of the trip west.

It’s there, standing outside of my temporary home for the next two nights, I get my first whiff of home sickness. I want my bed, I want my puppies and I want my husband. When did I turn into such a big baby? I used to pride myself on my independance and my ability to step out of my comfort zone. Now, I couldn’t be more anxious to get home.

After a long chat with my mother-in-law and a few crocodile tears later, I felt a bit better about what I was doing. And a few hours later I realized why I was feeling so overwhelmed and emotional. It comes every month and I’m not sure why it still surprises me, duh.

Because the layover in San Antonio was long, many passengers left the station to visit a bar and stretch their legs. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’d be correct. I thought I was going to have a rumble at 2:30 a.m. when they all showed back up to make the departure. Smiley stomped up to the second level and shouting about how he couldn’t find his seat.

When the train hooked up to the other train, the crew members came on board and turned the seats around, so the passengers would be sitting forward when it began moving again. Yes, slightly confusing for the sober person, but impossible to navigate for the drunk.

He stopped by my seat twice to ask loudly what the f**k happened to his seat. I was huddled under my blanket and snuggled into my pillow trying to figure out the most least comfortable position to fall asleep in. The last time Smiley stopped to bark, I ripped the covers off my head and gave him the meanest stink eye I could muster.

It must’ve worked. I didn’t hear a peep from him for the rest of the night. I wish I could say that about the other members of his drunken party. It’s funny, people say New Yorkers are the biggest arseholes of the country, yet I had enough common sense to not stomp around, talk on my cellphone (who the hell is up to talking at 2:00 a.m. any ways?) or chat with my passenger buddy like it was 2 p.m. in the afternoon…..

Overall, I got about thresh hours of sleep my first night. I had planned ahead and brought my own blanket and pillows, so my head wouldn’t be trying to find a comfortable resting place on the arm rest. I also brought Wet Wipes to mimic a shower before bed. I didn’t have to use the mace I kept tucked in my jacket pocket and I did manage to get some uninterrupted sleep.

PS: When you sleep on a train it’s almost impossible to not accidentally bump your seat buddy. Do your best to focus on counting sheep.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part II

I’ve been caught up with applying to jobs out on the west coast, so I find it harder to sit down after hours of screen time to blog about it. But let me catch you up. 

***

Three hours into my first long distance train ride and I have no complaints. I’ve never rode an Amtrak train before. I’ve traveled by subway, trolleys, inner city trams, and traveled back in time with gold thieves who would hold up a vintage locomotive in order to find gold in the passenger’s pockets. The stairwell leading to the bottom car does smell like urine, but my fellow passengers don’t reek of it, yet.

The Golden Eagle Amtrak train route.
The Golden Eagle Amtrak train route.

To say I was nervous about my 5-hour layover in San Antonio would be putting it lightly. I’m supposed to sleep in this thing? To be fair, the seats did recline far enough to snuggle in for an awkward night’s sleep and the leg room was generous.

But I’m one of those strange people who has an unhealthy relationship with their bed. I can’t sleep anywhere unless it’s between my own sheets. When I would do sleepovers at a friend’s house, my mom had to warn the parents I would have to call them before I’d go to bed. I would get home sick and just want to go back to my own house, each time. My mom expected the call and would tell me she’d be there before sunrise if I didn’t have a good time. I guess I wanted reassurance my home would still be there for me the next day, who knows.

Me, reluctantly sitting in my seat.
Me, reluctantly sitting in my seat.

A hour into the train ride I got a dose of what my fellow travelers did outside of the speeding bullet. The man behind me spent a majority of the first leg of the train on his phone. His daughter’s car had overheated, she was stranded in a neighborhood, and he talked her through what she needed to do in order for the car to start and return home.

The man in front of me might be Mr. Bean. He fell asleep within seconds and passengers two cars ahead of us could hear him snoring. I kid you not. I have never heard the most such a disgusting snore come from ones throat, at times people were nervous he was going to choke. I immediately made a mental note to never complain about the light snoring my husband did.

A group of people in the far back talked mostly about sports, but oddly enough politics would swoop into the conversation every once in a while. The loud obnoxious one with smiley tattooed on his neck favored the 49-ers. An older couple sported Dallas Cowboy gear and complained about Tony Romo.

I’ve been through two cities thus far according to the map, but anywhere else in the country I think they’d just be considered a gathering of people who couldn’t ravel far enough inland. We went through the town Crawford, and no joke, I blinked and missed it entirely.

The Brazen River
The Brazen River

I had my first river crossing – the Brazen River which means the Arms of God. I was happy to reach the other side because of the nightmares I had the night before of derailing on a bridge, drowning to death. I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested – in my Sheldon Cooper voice. 

Flat land for days
Flat land for days

The scenery switches up between flat land, bushes texans call trees and run-down homes. And there were plenty of old cars sitting in some backyards, a gold mine for my car-crazed husband and father-in-law.

City of Crawford
City of Crawford

I’m not to keen on getting up and out of my seat, yet. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what is going on around me. I like to absorb the culture before I start to wander the train. Can I leave my stuff on my seat? Which way is the cafe car? Should I sit quietly or make a friend?

I think I’ll wait a couple more hours before I indulge myself of what I’ll call home for the next 35 hours.

Coming Home

Vacation is officially over, I was back on the road again and how depressing it was. I didn’t want to leave, man oh man I didn’t want to leave, but as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end, one way or another.

Hotel Livin'
Hotel Livin’
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
She's a person, I swear
She’s a person, I swear

So we packed up our belongings, sadly crammed them into the car, fed the puppies and let them wander around one last time in the patch of grass behind the hotel. We got our complementary breakfast one last time, omelets from the omelet man, and headed off to tackle the 11 hour drive we had ahead of us.

I took a few last gasps of Colorado mountain air and snapped a few desperate photos of the mountains, merely to symbolize our last morning with the mountains on our side.

A very sad morning indeed, not just because the trip was over, but because I would no longer be able to wake up next to my husband and share a cup coffee with breakfast including him. Since the day we met our schedules have been opposite, so the few times in our relationship where we can start and finish the day together are important.

I’m not sure why I thought this drive was only 9 hours, maybe because that’s how long it took to get to Florida from Virginia, but this trip was definitely almost 11 hours, my poor puppies and numb rump.

The first 5 hours of the trip were easy, we passed the time with two favorite car games, one being The Animal game – my personal favorite and the other, The Alphabet game – Matt’s personal favorite.

The Animal Game is easy, and can be played in line at theme parks or 11 hour car drives. You start with ‘A’ and name as many animals starting with the letter ‘A’ and you continue throughout the alphabet all the way to ‘Z.’ When somebody is out of animals (usually if only two people are playing) the other person has to name one more animal with that letter to win the letter, the loser has to start off the next letter. If you have more people in the group, the harder it is and instead of having to win the round the loser is out, until a winner is left.

The Alphabet Game is eerily best played with two people. One person starts at the beginning of the Alphabet and the other at the end. Using each letter to find a word, outside of the car beginning with their letter, whoever gets to the other end first wins, and as beginners luck has it, I won.

We finally hit Texas a bit after our games ended, and I was surprised to find myself excited to see this flat dry and dead hunk of lump state. A little more than 5 hours to go until home, hallelujah.

Hello, Texas ...
Hello, Texas …
They're so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip
They’re so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip

As we got closer, about 10 minutes from the house, we encountered the insufferable road blockage due to construction,. This lead us on a detour in the opposite direction we were trying to head towards and cut us through the little town of Krum, adding an extra 15 minutes to our arrival, woof.

Coming home is always a nice breathe of fresh air, especially when the house is already clean. Home safe and sound and already planning our next adventure. Until next time, stay weird Texas.

Cliff Dwellings of Manitou Springs

Sigh-our last full day in Colorado Springs, a bit more than bittersweet, we didn’t want to leave at all. If it were possible to move all our belongings in a blink of an eye, I think we would have.

In the beginning of a trip, that first wake up means the whole adventure is in front of you, so when it ends, it feels like it came and went to quickly. As soon as you book a trip, it takes forever to get there, but when you’re on vacation, it flies by faster than the speed of light.

I’m just grateful I got to spend it with my guy and our two puppies.

After breakfast we headed into Manitou Springs to visit the cliff dwellings. These dwellings were homes to the Anasazi ( The Ancient Ones or The Ancestral Puebloans). The people of this culture lived from 1100 A.D. to 1300 A.D. in the four corners area ( Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico).

These apartment homes were carved into the side of the huge red rocks to protect themselves from invasions by intruders, so their backs were always covered, no sneak attacks from behind.

Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs 2015
Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs 2015
At the entrance of a home inside the Cliffs
At the entrance of a home inside the Cliffs

The tiny narrow hallways and low ceilings gave you the feel of what it might have been like to live in one of these homes. The stairs were just as narrow and with the sun behind us, it was very dark.

A view from the inside. It was cool on the inside and felt damp.
A view from the inside. It was cool on the inside and felt damp.
They are so cute, my three ruffs.
They are so cute, my three ruffs.
A better angle of what we were looking at and how each home connects
A better angle of what we were looking at and how each home connects

There was also a museum housed inside a Pueblo. A structure made from clay and hay, because of the cold winters Colorado has, the snow melts the clay and has to be replenished yearly. I hate mowing the grass, how spoiled are we, can you imagine?

We were also in for an unexpected treat that day, there were wolves walking around, real life BIG ones. The Hubs and I got to pet and feed them, totally insane!

I was walking up to the female when the male, Ghost, came galloping up to me, nuzzling me with this long thick snout. I’m not going to lie, for a quick second I thought this was it. “Here lies Shannon, eaten alive by a wolf.”

The handler explained people adopt these animals and try to mix them with dogs, because they think it’s “cool,” and when they become an adult, they’re too much to handle and get left in shelters, or in the present females case, tied up to a tree.

Because they end up in shelters, nobody wants to adopt them and they end up being put down, a sad fate for a wild animal. So, he takes them in and cares for them.

The wolves eat between 6 to 9 lbs of raw meat a day. So the handler brings them out to help raise money to feed and house them. They can’t be domesticated, meaning you can’t house train them. They live in a huge back yard with man-made dens, another female wolf is the pack leader. You Go Girl.

Just giving Ghost a treat, from my bare hand!
Just giving Ghost a treat, from my bare hand!
The hubby got to too!
The hubby got to too!

After the dwellings, we dropped the dogs off and went to downtown Colorado Springs and historic Colorado City. Downtown was nice, a small city with clean streets. The homes were Victorian style, where the floors probably creaked and the banisters were hand crafted wood.

Historic Colorado City is like any historic area, small trinket stores, hand dipped chocolate goodies and a grassy area for guests to sun bathe on. It’s cute, nice for tourists and people who eat lunch outside.

It was built by a few guys who had enough money to spend, pretty much the same song and dance for any town in those days.

We got back to the hotel early in the afternoon and were wiped out. All the hiking and exploring caught up with us and we were done-zo. I crawled under the sheets and dozed off for an hour, woke up to The Hunger Games on HBO and a very hungry husband.

The Hubs found a restaurant that was inside an old Boeing KC-97, him being an avid aviation junkie, especially during the WWII era, so we had to go. It didn’t dissapoint.

The building surrounding the plane offered additional seating and plenty of eye candy hanging on every inch of the walls. The menus were newspapers you could take home as souvenirs and the waiters were dressed in airline attendant fashion.

Matt checking out the cockpit
Matt checking out the cockpit
Me reading the local news, I mean looking over the menu
Me reading the local news, I mean looking over the menu
The view from outside
The view from outside

Let the record show, I Shannon, was in a plane willingly without any mild heart palpitations or panic attacks. Plus, the food was pretty good. I got an avocado burger, the Hubs got salmon pasta something or other and we split a brownie sundae.

A great way to end the day and trip, because in the morning, we had an 11 hour trek back home ahead of us.

Pike’s Peak – Day Two

After yesterdays breakfast, I knew todays was going to be just as good. I almost couldn’t wait to get out of bed, almost.

Knowing we had to tire the dogs out before leaving them at the hotel, the Hubs found a disc golf coarse (golf with a frisbee) 25 minutes away. Every time we go somewhere new, we check out their disc golf courses. We were’t disappointed, the puppies were pooped.

There was a foot trail that circled the park and I decided to tire the pups out a little bit more. A quick run never hurt anybody, right? Wrong, we got lost, it didn’t circle the park and the Hubs had to come pick us up, miles into the country, oops.

I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn't know that yet).
I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn’t know that yet).
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.

After we got back to the hotel, we checked out The Cog Railway Train Adventure and were disappointed to find you were required to schedule the ride 24 hours in advance. Matt really wanted to go on top of a mountain.

Plan B! We can drive up to Pikes Peak, even better! So we drove the 20 miles to get to the base of the mountain to begin our trek up, and man was that a long way down.

The views from the side of the mountain were anything but ordinary. Breathing in that fresh mountain air was rejuvenating, even with the altitude trying to take your breathe away.

We stopped to hike up some rocks before getting to the tops and this is where the picture below was taken.

Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!

I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights, but rather a fear of falling. I’m pretty proud of myself for standing on the edge. My knees didn’t give out, hallelujah.

To the top of the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level. Fun Fact: The view from the summit inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1883.

Before you get to the summit, you travel up roads that are a little to close to the edge for my taste, guardrails only on the sharp turns. Due to ice and snow we couldn’t make it all the way to the top, but we got pretty close.

We made it to Boulder Park, 13,380 feet above sea level. We got out, trampled through feet of snow ( with improper clothing, I was wearing capri work out pants, yikes!) and hiked to the top of the boulders, trying to get as high in the clouds as possible.

I'm surprised I didn't trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
I’m surprised I didn’t trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
My, "I can't believe I'm climbing this, already up to high" face.
My, “I can’t believe I’m climbing this, already up to high” face.

As we drove back down the mountain, we stopped at the Crystal Reservoir and took the self-guided nature trail. The reservoir was frozen over and we got to read about the Big Foot sightings.

Yes, you read that right. Big Foot was spotted by a guest in Pikes Peak back in 2001. A sign was added to commemorate the sighting. You can read here about more tales of Big Foot and the Sea Monster in Mystic River.

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That's a big, foot!
That’s a big, foot!

We got back to the hotel, ate dinner and passed out before 10 p.m. and if you know me, that’s a feat all in itself. Goodnight!

Day One – Colorado Springs

The first wake up always feels so good, you have your whole trip ahead of you. The hotel bed feels amazing, you couldn’t get anymore comfortable and you don’t have to clean anything. Plus, free continental breakfast and if my husband was writing this he would tell you, it’s not a real free breakfast without a waffle iron. (For the record, ours did.)

When you walk into the lobby, a business center with way to many plush couches are set up around a faux fire. To the right of that, the indoor swimming pool is front and center, and the restaurant (where our breakfast was served) is up and to the left, additional seating on the ground level.

There were tables upon tables of good breakfast food, buffet style. They also had a ‘omelette guy’ who made to order omelets right in front of you. Let me tell you, this is the best breakfast I’ve ever had to not clean up after.

After we finished out breakfasts, we gathered up the pups and went to check out Garden of the Gods. It’s rated as one of the best parks in the country and as an added bonus, it’s free! On the drive down we noticed the abundance of dogs being walked, all over the place! Colorado Springs is shaping up to be just as good as I expected.

As we pulled up to the parking lot for the park, the Hubs and I were both awed by not only the size and shapes of these boulder rocks, but the color of them on the backdrop of the mountains behind them. This place is awesome AND beautiful.

The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don't do it justice.
The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don’t do it justice.
Again, how could you not be awed?
Again, how could you not be awed?

We briskly walked all over the park, making sure to check out each designated spot on the map. We saw climbers on the tops of the rocks and birds flying out of holes at the tippy top of those same boulders. These rocks were huge, I loved it!

The park also had a number of trails that varied in length, feeling frisky we went for the big one, in total it would be a little over 8 miles, but it promised a big rock balancing on a smaller one, who wouldn’t want to see that?

The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the 'balancing rock.'
The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the ‘balancing rock.’

As we hiked around the mountain, I was surprised how hard it was to breathe, that altitude is no joke! My heart didn’t race this much while I ran a 5k or did the StairMill at the gym for 30 minutes, as expected, the views were worth the gasps of air.

The view from the top.
The view from the top.
That coloring, it's gorgeous.
That coloring, it’s gorgeous.
"Through the Looking Glass"
“Through the Looking Glass”
I can't believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!
I can’t believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!

By the time we got back to the hotel, puppies and parents were pooped. Everybody took a nap, except me … I began my blog writing, took a bath and read some more of my book, relaxation at its finest.

Around 4:30 we perked up again, and decided to check out the downtown historic area of Manitou Springs, about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. The buildings were old, the floors creaked in each boutique and as it should be, there was a penny arcade. Hubs and I won 62 tickets, he got a Butterfingers and a popper.

As we ate dinner our eyelids grew heavier and we were all in bed by 10 p.m. I hadn’t been that tired in a long time, but I had a sneaky suspicion we would be, if not more, because we had three more fun-filled days before the drive back to Texas, whoop-ee.

Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.
Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.