Weekend Trips for Adventure Lovers

Adventure-lovers often seek out challenging new locations for exciting weekend getaways. With so much to do in Colorado, choosing the perfect spot for a stimulating mini-vacation can take some time. We recommend one of these destinations for weekend trips filled with thrills.

Breckenridge, Colorado

breckenridgeBreckenridge is the quintessential mountain town. Surrounded by the glorious beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Breckenridge offers a wide variety of activities sure to please the most dauntless adventure-seeker. If the thought of an off-road journey gives you a charge, book a horseback ride along a mountain trail, a backcountry ATV tour or a rock-climbing excursion. Avid mountain bikers, hikers and runners will also be thrilled by the hundreds of miles of multi-use trails in the area. Those who prefer the water will get their kicks kayaking down Clear Creek or white-water rafting down Brown’s Canyon. Experienced rafters can revel in the more advanced rapids of the Numbers stretch of the Arkansas River.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood SpringsGlenwood Springs presents thrill-seekers with many of the same opportunities for fun as Breckenridge, plus some exhilarating activities of which the more timid among us steer clear. Try your hand at paragliding along the mountainside or zip line high above the rushing rapids of the Colorado River. Take the 10 minute gondola ride to the top of Iron Mountain and visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Attractions found at the adventure park include an alpine roller coaster, mountain caves to explore and the Giant Canyon Swing, which projects only the bravest souls from the side of the mountain over Glenwood Canyon where the river lays more than 1000 below.

Ouray, Colorado

Ouray

Ouray is bordered on three sides by the San Juan Mountain range; a range of the Rocky Mountains rich in gold and silver. The minerals drew a rush of prospectors in the late 1800’s who left behind mines and historic building which history enthusiasts love to explore. But the steep and high mountains surrounding Ouray also offer adventurers a range of heart-stopping recreational pleasure. Grab a harness, some rope, a wet suit and the rest of your canyoneering tools and then rappel down a canyon cliff into the pool of melted snow at the bottom. If the sky seems more inviting, enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Rockies from a hot air balloon. Or, take to the miles of mountain trails on horseback, mountain bike or on foot. One weekend in Ouray won’t be long enough to satisfy your taste for this mountain town.

Known for its pristine, snow-covered slopes, Colorado is often thought of as a winter vacation destination. However warm, sunny days and breathtaking views create the perfect backdrop for invigorating weekend escapes. What’s your favorite weekend vacation?

Weekend Trips for Adventure Lovers

Running on the Mendocino Coast

Last Sunday was a beautiful day in Mendocino. With a tummy full of crab and a head a little fuzzy from so much delicious wine, I decided it was time to stretch my legs and enjoy the sea breeze. Jason and I headed to the headlands in Mendocino  to go for a short run before lunch.

It was not hard to find a little 3-mile out-and-back route on the cliffs looking over the ocean. The damp, well packed, sandy trail was soft and even. I was able to steal glances at the water whenever I wasn’t so close to the edge that I was worried about tripping and falling off the cliffs.

California Beaches

Afterwards, Jason and I met my mom and Aunt Kay at Patterson’s, a little Irish Pub for lunch. I had crab cakes (never enough crab!) over greens and a mimosa. The server brought me the rest of the champagne split so I could dilute that orange juice until one would wonder if there was any in there – just how I like it!

Patterson's

Monday (while you were working! ha!) Jason and I went for a run at the Jughandle State Reserve. There is a beautiful out-and-back nature trail there about 5 miles long round trip.

photo 1 (2)

It features a staircase of plant communities and soils starting with more headlands (can’t get too much of the ocean), a Bishop Pine Forest, a Grand Fir Forest, a Redwood Forest and a Pygmy Forest. Of course, I can’t tell the difference – especially while running – but what I can tell you is that they are all green, cool, and beautiful.

Redwoods

We started out on the headlands, near Jughandle Clove before turning inland, going under the highway and back into the forest. The way out was mostly uphill and it took Jason and I about 40 minutes to reach the end of the trail. We cruised back in about 25. It might have been because it was more downhill… just as likely because I lead on the way uphill and Jason led on the way back. He’s much faster than me. And a jerk.

Jason & Me

At the trailhead, there are brochures that have information about the geology if you are interested in things like that. I was interested in the fact that I was running through a green forest in January – and I could have been wearing shorts! Also, afterwards we went for ice cream at Cowlicks – best ice cream in northern California! Check it out if you are in town!

Cowlicks Ice Cream

 

Running on the Mendocino Coast

Wine Tasting Near Mendocino

For the past couple of years my mom attended the Wine, Beer & Crab Festival in Mendocino with some friends. She always raved about the delicious food and wines so, this year, Jason and I sort of invited ourselves along. Take that, Mom! (Jason got me the trip as a birthday present – what a great guy!)

My mom’s friends Mark and Patti graciously invited us to stay at their beautiful home on the coast, emailed directions, helped us procure tickets to crab fest and sent a list of wineries to check out on the drive north from the Oakland airport.

Our first stop was one of their favorites – Navarro Vineyards. Growing grapes and bottling wine since 1973, Navarro is committed to sustainable farming and wine-making  They avoid the use of insecticides and herbicides and they use a small flock of lambs to eat the cover crop between the vineyard rows – cute and environmentally friendly!

Navarro Vineyards

Jason and I paid them a visit for a tasting. My favorites were the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (I’ve never met a Sav Blanc I didn’t like), the 2010 Pinot Noir, and the 2010 Shiraz.

Navarro also makes some fantastic goat cheeses from the milk from their goats on the farm. We ended up taking home a bottle of the 2010 Shiraz and a block of the goat cheese that was aged 4-5 months. The tasting itself was free so I felt like we made out like a bandit.

Here’s a photo of their vineyard:

Navarro Vineyard

We made one more stop on the way to Mendocino at the Roederer Estate. Patti said that they specialize in sparkling wines and I’m a totally sucker for the bubbly. I was sure they would sweep the wine and crab competition because who can vote for a still wine when there is bubbly to be had?

Roederer Estate

Roederer’s tasting was $6 per person and there were about eight wines they were allowing people to sample. We got to taste about four sparkling wines, a Chardonnay, and two Pinot Noirs. We ended up bringing home a bottle of the Brut Rose we enjoyed while we were making dinner last night. It was delicious!

 

Wine Tasting Near Mendocino

Cold Weather Running Pants

I’m bored with the treadmill. I can’t help it. It doesn’t matter how many games I try to play to keep myself interested. I still want to jump out a window after I’ve been on one for about 10 minutes. So, in an effort to motivate myself to run outside, or at least remove one of my excuses for it being too cold – I just invested in the Women’s Ultra Windblocking Tight from Pearl Izumi.

Ultra Windblocking Tight

I took a bit of a gamble ordering them online but I know from experience that Pearl Izumi Medium consistently fits me really well. What I love most about these pants is that PI uses different kinds of fabric on different parts of the leg so the pants keep you warm and protect you from the wind but don’t restrict your range of motion. There are two pockets for carrying gels or shot blocks over the hips for long runs and a splash panel that will keep my calves from getting wet if I run through a puddle or the mud.

I’m curious to know – what piece of winter gear can you not live without?

Cold Weather Running Pants

Homemade Ice Cream!

Last night, as I left the house to meet friends I almost tripped over a large box on my doorstep. I pulled it in the house, and since I hadn’t ordered anything, just put it aside. This morning, I opened it to find a 2-Quart Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream maker and a recipe book called “The Perfect Scoop.” I’m sure I squealed like the ice-cream loving little piggy that I am.

I dug through the box looking for some explanation as to how I got so lucky to find such an amazing thing on my porch with my name on it, and I found a note on the order from from my future mother-in-law wishing me a happy birthday. The last time Jason and I visited the east coast she must have noticed how I just sat in front of her ice cream maker watching it turn cream, milk, sugar and caramel into a to-die-for creamy, sweet (but not too sugary) after-dinner treat.

I immediately tossed out my to-do list and headed to Whole Foods with a recipe for chocolate coconut milk ice cream. Here’s how it goes:

Ingredients:

  • 2-14 oz cans of Thai Kitchen coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup of coconut milk sugar
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • A few drops of peppermint extract
  • A few drops of peppermint Schnapps
  • A dash of sea salt
  • One chopped up bar of dark chocolate

Instructions:

Mix everything but the chopped chocolate together in a mixing bowl and pour into the top of the ice cream maker. Blend until you reach the desired consistency. Drop the chocolate in for the last 30 seconds of the blending process and get out a spoon. Prepare to enjoy!

Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream!

Homemade Salsa!

It’s the new year, and Jason and I are trying to eat healthier. We did a pretty good job already, if I do say so myself. We have smoothies filled with organic fruit and almond butter for breakfast, salads with spinach, kale, apples, red onions, quinoa, and avocado for lunch, and some combination of brown rice, tofu, potatoes, black beans, brussels sprouts and other vegetables for dinner.

We (Jason) makes our own almond/walnut milk to go in our smoothies and we (I) buy organic whenever it doesn’t break the bank. (Thanks Costco near Boulder!)

After the new year, Jason has been eating as vegan (plant-based) as possible, and I’m trying to be supportive by eating mostly plant-based food with him. Also, It would be a bonus if I lost a couple of pounds by cutting out cheese after the gingerbread-cookie-fueled holidays I just survived. Damn you, gingerbread and powdered sugar frosting! You do nothing for my love handles!

Jason volunteered to go to the store last night so I wrote a list for him. I put salsa on it. I love salsa. I miss salsa after a couple of days. I dream about salsa. I put salsa on almost everything!

Instead of bringing home salsa, Jason brought home tomatoes, red and orange peppers, a lime, shallots, garlic, a jalapeno, and cilantro and announced that we were going to make our own salsa because, “most salsas have something in them I can’t pronounce” which makes them bad for you in Jason-land.

Salsa Vegetables

When Jason and I first met, I ate much healthier then his dude-with-good-genes-in-his-20s metabolism required him to. Now I yawn, stretch and try to keep up with his overly healthy ways… by suggesting that he let me at least help him make the salsa.

So tonight, I poured us each a glass of wine and looked up a recipe. (I found this one from Alton Brown.) I hope you enjoy!

Homemade SalsaAlton recommends letting this sit for 12 hours for “flavor infusion.” I’ll go to the store for tortilla chips. Yummy!

Homemade Salsa!

Treadmill Workout #1

Just yesterday, an amazing thing happened. I was sitting at my desk and looking out a window. (The fact that I have a window I can look out of during the day is an amazing fact in itself since at my last job I worked 80+ hours a week in a tiny little closet with no windows in the basement of the office building I shared with another guy.) Remember that one scene in Office Space with that guy with the stapler getting moved down to the basement? It was kind of like that.

ANYWAY, I was looking out my window at 5pm and there was just a touch of light in the sky! Light! at 5pm! At the rate of gaining three minutes of light per day, I’ll be able to go for a run after work in daylight in about two weeks. Hallelujah!

Until then, since I’m a wimp about the cold and the dark, I have been spending a lot of time on the treadmill. I pretty much hate the treadmill. I think that I’m zoning out to my music and look down to find I’ve only been running for about 10 seconds. Over and over.

So, I started trying to come up with different workouts that keep me from wanting to jump out a window. Here’s one of my recent favorites, I hope it helps you as much as it has me:

Picture 5

Treadmill Workout #1

Lincoln Cafe, Mt. Vernon, IA

Happy New Year! I missed you too. I hope your 2013 is off to a great start!

I usually spend some time in Iowa over the holidays. While I’m there, I make my annual trip to a mall with my sister (who is a fantastic shopper), watch a bunch of movies, have a few glasses of wine with my mom and aunts, and go for long walks with my dad. I love Iowa.

This year, I was there for two weeks and I have to admit that I missed the restaurants of Boulder, CO (and New York, my home before Boulder) since there is not much I love more than going out for a yummy meal with great company. I had the company – my mom and sister – and so fortunately, my mom suggested the Lincoln Cafe.

Lincoln Cafe

The Lincoln Cafe is a small independent restaurant on main street in the adorable town of Mt. Vernon, IA. Everyday, the Lincoln Cafe features two lunch specials and three dinner specials on the chalk board featuring locally and organically sourced ingredients wherever possible. They also have a standard menu of sandwiches, salads, and snacks at lunch and dinner – prices stay about $10 for the regular menu. Specials can run $15-30+.

Picture 4

I started with a turnip & peppercorn soup that I was a little hesitant to try, but ended up being fabulous and had an entree of flounder with mustard BBQ oysters, smoked maitake mushroom rice and fennel. The fish was cooked to perfection – nice and flaky – and the oysters (which I’ve never had before) were also delicious.

Lincoln Cafe

One thing you absolutely must know is that the Lincoln Cafe does not have a liquor license but they encourage you to bring your own wine and beer. Fortunately, if you forget your beverage the Lincoln Cafe has a contingency plan! They have a little wine bar two doors up the street and you can run up to to grab a bottle… and if you have to wait for a table, feel free to open it up and grab a glass while you wait. If you don’t feel like going to the cafe at all – no worries – the wine bar has a pizza oven they brought over from Italy so you can relax and enjoy a great meal right there! Bon appetite!

Lincoln Cafe, Mt. Vernon, IA

Book Review: Finding Ultra

In the conclusion of Rich Roll‘s book Finding Ultra  he says, “My story is about a guy who woke up one morning and found himself on the same worn trail he’d been on for too many years. We’ve all been there. And far too many of us just can’t seem to find the exit ramp, let alone a new and more fulfilling trajectory.”

Many who have stood in Rich’s shoes took one look at that exit ramp and turned back to their worn trail. Instead, Rich kicked alcoholism, quit his job, became a vegan, lost 40 pounds, and pushed the limits of endurance by talking his way into an invitation-only 3-day Ultraman triathlon consisting of a 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile bike and a 52.4 mile run. I’m left wondering when people will finally say, “You know what, that’s far enough.”

After that challenge, which makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it, he also was one of the first people who participated in the EPIC5-completing five ironman distance triathlons on five islands of Hawaii in less than a week.

So, we can safely say that Mr. Roll is a bit nuts, but I found his book entertaining, inspiring and informative. His story itself is a page-turner and appendices and resources on his plant powered diet are included. I’ve referred to them many times when people ask me how I get my protein. 😉

I am one of those people who marks up her books like crazy. This one is now full of underlined sentences and dog-eared pages. Here is one of my favorite quotes: “Pursue what’s in your heart, and the universe will conspire to support you.”

Book Review: Finding Ultra

Great Running Quotes

It was cold and dreary out today. I still have a food hangover from my weekend in Ridgway. I needed motivation. And like most readers, I can usually find motivation in a good quote. Here are a few great ones that got me off the couch and out the door today for a (slow) 3.4 miles…

Motivational:

“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” -William James (from Scott Jurek‘s book Eat & Run)

“When you run on the earth and with the earth, you can run forever.” -Raramuri Proverb (from Born to Run)

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine

Just for fun:

“It’s the road signs, ‘Beware of lions.” -Kip Lagat, Kenyan distance runner, on why his country produces so many great runners

“You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.” -Gatorade

Great Running Quotes