breck – final thoughts

One the bus ride back to the airport I had a lot of time to reflect on trip and just how I experience travel in general….and here’s my main takeaway

I think of traveling and automatically think I have to go to the most exotic, far out place, where no one else has been before. But after some thought I realized travel at a fundamental level is just about going places. It doesn’t matter where that place is as long as you go. It’s the competitive Aries in me that makes me think otherwise.

So in 2019 I am vowing to slow down and really appreciate all the places I am able to travel. Bigs trips or small, new places or those well known. To know that all travel is a privilege I am so lucky to have.

At the time of my trip to Breckenridge, I was reading the book “Year of less” by Cait Flanders. A book I’d been wanting to read for some time.

Something she mentioned in the book really hit home with me in regards to travel.

“It’s far too easy to take your surrounds for granted, and I am blessed to live in one of the most beautiful parts of this continent.” -Cait Flanders

And right now those words really ring true.

xx

michelle

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day 4

Day 4, our last day skiing, was by far the best day in terms of weather. The sun was out, which meant clear skis and warmer temps.

We started the morning similar to day 3 by skiing a lot of peak 7. But, headed back towards peak 8 once the lines started getting to long.

As we were getting towards the end of the day, or at least the end of the skiing portion of the day, my dad and I started to consider going up to the top of peak 8.

I told my dad that if I was going to go up I would only go once. The top of peak 8 is all black diamonds/double blacks. Like mentioned I am not the best skier but if I am feeling pretty good I can handle a couple of blacks.

My dad decided he’d go up once by himself to see how it was and then we could decide if we both wanted to go back up there (Side note: my dad and my sister are very good skiers especially compared to me, so shout out to them for being awesome).

While my dad went to check out the top my uncle and I skied another run in the meantime. After meeting back up and going back and forth on whether or not I should try it out we finally just decided to do it. It was the last day and would be pretty much the last run of the day so it would be now or never.

We headed over to the lift that takes you up, this lift was a bit different (not your typical ski lift). It was a t-bar where you essentially have to lean back on the bar while it drags you up the mountain, yes your feet/skis are on the ground.

It was an uncomfortable ride up to say the least. And to add to it we got stopped twice for unknown reasons making it even more difficult to stay on the t-bar itself.

Eventually…we made it to the top! Now it was time to get down…and I was definitely nervous. I just started to focus on my breathing and let the muscle memory do the work. And before I knew it the run was over and I had done it.

In that whole experience I learned to trust myself. That I can do it, that my body knows what to do. How to protect me, how to get me down safely but to also have a little bit of fun in doing so.

For me, it was a reminder that it’s not about being the best skier but just getting out there. And I’ve realized I am more than happy with that.

xx

michelle

the t-bar…

successfully survived the t-bar…

half way down

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day 3

We started day 3 by deciding to get some runs on peak 7 in.

Peak 7 is by far my favorite in terms of run. It’s full of long rolling blues that are just fun to ski and that’s what I enjoy most.

The only not so great thing about peak 7 is the chairlift situation. There is only one lift to the top so it gets really crowded by mid to late morning. So it’s definitely best to ski first thing in the morning before the lift queue gets too backed up.

After spending most of the morning on peak 7 we did a few runs to get back down to the base and called it a pretty early day. But, not before we enjoyed a beer or two at apres ski.

Now based on our original itinerary this was supposed to be the day that we headed back home but because of our change in plans we didn’t have to say goodbye so soon.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and then headed to an early dinner.

xx

michelle

p.s.

I know I have been very slow to post but sometime life gets in the way… 😦

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the view from apres…

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day 2

Day 2 we woke up to clear skies and sore thighs. Ha.

Our plan for the day was to head over to peak 6 where you can ski the blues above the tree line. The lifts weren’t open right away so we did a few runs on peak 8 before finally heading over.

Not going to lie the way up to the top was pretty intimidating as you are riding the lift above the tree line. You start to feel like you are going to fall off a cliff. I am not one to normally be afraid of heights but I was definitely shaking. Think we all were to some extent.

Once at the top the views were breathtaking. I have never experienced anything like it before. You really feel like you are on top of the world but also that you could fall off at any moment.

For the first run we took the “easier” way down. Which don’t let the name fool you it was still pretty intense at the top. But once you hit the tree line it’s pretty smooth sailing. All in all it was exhilarating in the best way possible. So much so that we headed back up for a second go.

The second run was a bit more difficult but somehow still managed to pull it off and was able to do it better than some. We watched a guy totally wipe out on the way down.

After that I think we were all on a bit of a high having conquered peak 6. I was so glad we just totally went for it without thinking about it too much. I know if I had I probably would have talked myself out of it.

We skied a bit more before calling it a day, hitting the hot tubs an early dinner and then bed. The mountains can really tire you out especially being from the Midwestern plains.

xx

michelle

just off the chair lift at the top of peak 6…

snippet of the first run down peak 6…

view from second run…

snippet of the second run down…

the very happy face of success…

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day 1

We woke up Monday morning to find it snowing, looks like we’d be skiing in the fresh powder or “pow pow” as my brother in law put it.

With my new ski jacket (thanks Santa) and goggles I certainly felt the part and was eager to get out there.

Coming off the lift and heading to our first run was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Skiing in the fresh untouched powder…gliding across the surface feeling light as air. It was pretty damn magical and I think we’d all agree.

The skiing itself came back pretty naturally. I am certainly not the best but after a few runs I was feeling pretty comfortable.

After a fairly long first day on the slopes we grabbed some beer and hit the hot tub (my dad and uncle have a set routine that the rest of us are advised to abide too).

From there it was off to dinner. But dinner was soon interrupted as we got news that my dad and I’s original  flight back had been cancelled. This was due to the forecasted extreme negative temps that Chicago was set to and did experience on Wednesday.

The earliest available flight we could get was Friday evening. While this initially seems not great it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After rearranging our work schedules we were able to stay and ski an extra day. Lucky for us our uncle was staying till Friday anyways so we had a place to stay. While stressful for an hour or so we sorted everything and started gearing up for day 2.

xx

michelle

 

 

 

breckenridge – a brief intro

On the ride back to the airport I started thinking, should I write about my ski trip? I was unsure but decided why not? It’s a trip nonetheless I might as well.

This would be my first trip out west to ski since early 2014. To say I was a bit nervous about my abilities on the mountain would be an understatement. After making excuses to not go on the trip the past couple years this time I had no excuse. It was time to face the Rockies once again.

Our travel out there was near perfect. By midday we had everything sorted and were ready to hit the slopes first thing Monday morning. After so much anticipating I was there and it was happening.

xx

michelle

Final thoughts

Costa Rica has taught me that a simple life can be a good life. You don’t need a lot to be happy.

So in 2019 I really want to focus on the things that make me happy, bring me joy and spend less time on the negative.

To spend less time focusing on what others have that I don’t.

As an Aries it’s hard to think that life isn’t a competition. I am constantly reminding myself to appreciate all I have – the family, the friends, the love that fills me up and propels me forward. That that is really special and I am so lucky.

This trip couldn’t have come at the more perfect time. I hope to someday visit Costa Rica again and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.

“most importantly love

like it’s the only thing you know how

at the end of the day all this

means nothing

this page

where you’re sitting

your degree

your job

the money

nothing even matters

except love and human connection

who you loved

and how deeply you loved them

how you touched the people around you

and how much you gave them”

-rupi kaur

 

xx
michelle

It’s a pirates life for me…maybe

Our final full day in Tamarindo was spent on a sunset cruise. Don’t let the name of the cruise fool you it was actually more like an afternoon cruise considering it started at 1pm.

We were transported from the beach to our boat to start our afternoon. When we arrived at the boat I was a bit shocked, I thought we’d be cruising on a catamaran but it turned out to be a true sailboat.

When we got on board all of my bean bag chair dreams came true. My co-workers know that all I’ve ever wanted for the office is a bean bag chair. The entire boat was lined with bean bag chairs for lounging.

We settled in and were immediately served fresh fruit juice yum! Once abroad we set sail. They trip included live music on the boat, an open bar and 5 gourmet courses.

Courses:

  1. fresh green salad
  2. salmon crustini
  3. tropical ceviche
  4. thai coconut curry
  5. churro cake

A few hours in we anchored by a beach, “playa huevo,” (egg beach – I think because it was shaped like an egg) only reachable by boat and had time to swim around and do some snorkeling.

I immediately jumped in and headed for the beach, once there I searched around for some good shells and even found a piece of coral. From there my plan was a swim over to the snorkeling area.

For those of you that don’t know me, my greatest fear in life is of fish. Especially being in the same body of water as them where they might touch or bite me. I kept trying to hype myself up to actually do it but upon the first sign of something that looked like a fish I freaked out, had a mini panic attack and high tailed it back to the boat. So snorkeling is still a work in process for me.

After our swim we headed back and it was finally time to enjoy the sunset. It was a such a pretty one too with not really a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect way to end our time in Tamarindo and my trip as a whole.

xx

michelle

hello bean bags…

the owners of the boat adopted/found/rescued this cute little kitten who’s name is kitty…

our live entertainment…

An afternoon by the beach

We reached Tamarindo just in time for lunch. Stopping at this outdoor market with a bunch of different food vendors. Chicago friends, it was very much like the French Market or even the Wells St Market expect for the fact that is was all outdoors (I loved the indoor/outdoor aspect of virtually everything in Costa Rica).

lunch spot…

Bonus – I made a lizard friend, ok jk not really cause he ran away when I tried to get close but it still counts right?

my lizard friend…

After our lunch we headed to our airbnb and had a bit of a mix up that resulted in us almost lodging in the wrong complex. Once we got to our actual airbnb we dropped our stuff and walked down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon by the water.

Of course the child in me came out to play and I had to go crashing through the waves a few time in the water before looking around the beach for some cute seashells to bring home (free souvenirs!!).

Once I’d had enough of that I settled in and got some reading done while enjoying the passerby and start of the sunset. It was so pretty, I always forget how much I love watching the sunset on the beach and it’s a shame I don’t get to do it in my every day life. I suppose I could watch for lake Michigan but it’s just not the same.*

*Correction, the sun does not set over lake Michigan in Illinois so I actually can’t even watch it at home. Thanks for reminding me mom, oops!

From there we headed back to the airbnb to shower and relax before dinner.

Dinner was at an indoor/outdoor sushi club and was amazing. It reminded me of a tiki bar. Lots of much needed girl chat and a cute kitten roaming the restaurant filled the rest of the evening. Was definitely feeling all the feels.

xx

michelle

some beach pics…

 

The Road to Tamarindo

Before I get started with this post I’ve got a funny story to share. I was at lunch with my girlfriends from study abroad and we were talking about how I’ve started blogging about my travels again. My one friend says “I saw that, I get the notifications on Twitter” and I was like “Uh, I don’t have a Twitter,” idk how but my blog posts somehow find there way to Twitter… Should I be concerned? Probably. Do I care? Not at all.

Anyways back to Costa Rica. After our few days in Arenal we packed up and headed for the beach, yay! I think I mentioned this but if not I’ll mention it again. My friend has a car so we were able to drive from place to place which was nice because we didn’t have to follow a set timeline and could go as we please.

The drive from Arenal to Tamarindo was about 4 hours and it did not feel like four hours because the scenery was just that beautiful. The drive takes you north of Arenal and then West towards the Pacific ocean. Just north of Arenal is a man made lake that I think (don’t quote me) generates 46% of the electricity for all of Costa Rica. This lake is stunning and about an hour to an hour and a half of the drive was spent around the perimeter. It was so picturesque. At a certain point I made my friend pull over so I could get out of the car to take some photos (if you know me, this should not come as a surprise, ha!).

It’s was probably one of the best road trips I’ve been on in a long time. The windows were down, the music was going and the wind was whipping through our hair. It felt so easy and so pure. In those moments I truly felt free. Like I could do absolutely anything and everything.

xx

michelle

some photos from the drive…img_5948.jpgimg_5977.jpgimg_5985img_5995

photos from the spot I made my friend pull over…

for a brief time we were driving behind a truck full of cows, the one was just staring straight at us, you can see in the photo below it was so cute. but, it made us sad to see that all the cows were crammed into the truck with nothing to keep them from falling or crashing into one another. it was hard to watch them struggling to stay afoot amid the sharp curves in the road.