Outdoor Adventure Bucket List

As you already know, I am a lover of the outdoors and bucket lists. Nothing beats fresh air and time in nature. Bucket lists are fun ways to explore the world and challenge oneself.

Our family doesn’t have any trouble getting outside. But, its always nice to find new ideas to keep it exciting. Generation Wild, a non-profit in Colorado dedicated to connecting kids with nature, along with GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) came up with an excellent list of things kids should see/do/experience before they are 12. They have suggestions including going on a horseback ride and spotting a shooting star to making mud pies and going sledding on a cardboard box.

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You can download your own copy of the list in PDF format.  Even if you don’t live in Colorado, most of these can be done no matter where you live.

One of the items happens to be hear an Elk bugle- something we just completed last week. Here is a photo of all that we have completed on our list!

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I picked up a few additional assignments leading up to Kona for ironman.com. My first parksandpoints.com piece on the Great Sand Dunes is live as well as a story on Marine Vet Mike Mendoza who lost his bike on the way to 70.3 Worlds on ironman.com. And work is just beginning on my big project…… exciting things are in the future.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

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Have Elk Will Bugle

Life is about to get even more busy for us as I take on a huge project (more about that much later) and AJ takes a step in a new direction career wise and begins real estate school on Monday. So, we took a quick overnight trip to Rocky Mountain National Park to hear the elk bugling.

We went up on Wednesday after Emma had preschool. It was raining as we left Erie (odd) and rain clouds loomed over the national park. We stopped at the Moraine Discovery Center to talk to the rangers about where the elk have been hanging out. They are very often found in the Moraine Valley. So, we headed just down the road and sure enough, there was a herd there. We caught a short amount of action with a bull elk chasing a juvenile bull away from the herd. Other than that, it was bugle free. So, we headed to the Fern Lake trailhead to wait out the rain. It was a short storm, so we headed out for a hike.

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We hiked aboutIMG_3411 (1) 1.5 miles and turned around to make sure we could have dinner and set up the cabin before it got too dark. The trail was nice and was fairly flat with a few rollers, plenty of changing leaves and shade. It also followed the water.

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We had some beer samples and dinner at Estes Park Brewery. Because we didn’t get to the camp store at Jellystone Campground before they closed for the night, we had to gather our own wood for a fire. We had a good amount of light left to search for wood and get in some time at the playground too.

AJ got a great fire roaring, so we enjoyed some S’mores and fall beer mixed in with a little rain too. We even read a few books by the fireside. Then it was off to bed to get up early.

We got up early (before the sun) to find the elk. We had a camp stove fail, so thankfully. McDonald’s was open on the way back into the park. The herd wasn’t in its typical position in the valley, but we did see a DSC_1845bunch of people parked up the road. We headed there to eat our breakfast. The elk were pretty much on the move up the hillside. We did hear a few short whistles (well AJ and I did as the wind made for a very cold morning and Emma stayed in the car), but then the elk were up the hill and out of sight.

Because it was still too cold, we decided to drive up Trail Ridge to check out the leaves while it warmed up. As we headed up the road, AJ spotted four coyotes trotting on the side of the road. We followed them along (they didn’t seem too phased by cars, people) and happened to watch two of them go to the bathroom in the middle of the room. Lucky us….

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Up the road on a pull off, were a few cars and some elk just hanging out right by the side of the road. We decided to pull over. Within minutes, we heard some bugling. AJ, not being impressed with what we heard earlier, was wowed. Emma was sooo excited, and I felt giddy. There was a juvenile bull, about ten cows and one bull with a large rack. Up the hillside, and across the road, another bull was trying to make his presence known. The two bulls went back and forth bugling at each other.

Still cold, we headed up above tree line to see if we could see a few marmots or big horn sheep. No luck, so we headed back down. Some of the elk were back onto the road when we came down, so we stopped again to hear a few more bugles. The bull elk wasn’t cooperating to get pictures, but at least he performed on the bugle side.

We had to be out of the cabin by 11, so we had to get on our hike. We headed to the Cub Lake trailhead and hit the trail. Emma was on a leaf hunt (again) finding leaves all along the trail. The highlight was seeing an elk skeleton on the side of the trail. Emma was intrigued for sure.

With minutes to spare, we got back to the cabin. Packing up was quick, and Emma got some more time on the playground too. It was a great little get away returning to a place where AJ camped so many years ago with his parents. It looks the same in so many ways but different as well…. We enjoyed hearing about his memories.

Adventure On,

Courtney

Celebrating 41

I turned 41 this past Saturday. It didn’t have the hoopla of my 40th, but I still enjoyed the time with my loves and all the birthday messages I received. We went out to breakfast and spent the rest of the day hanging out at home really doing nothing. For me, it was actually nice to do nothing. Saturday night, AJ surprised me (made me put on a blindfold) with a picnic with wine, bread, cheese and Proscuitto from my favorite place- Cured. We had a drink out before the picnic and finished with carrot cake and cocktails at 24 Carrot Bistro. It was a nice night and kept my mind off Irma.

Sunday was an emotional day as we continually watched the coverage of the hurricane. Although we don’t fully know the extent of the damage of the city of Naples and Marco Island, we know my parents place came out with minimal damage. The friends and family we had around the state are all safe and sound as well. My thoughts go out to those who lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.

Last year, I created the blog post, “A Bucket List for 40“.  One year later, my bucket list is re-posted below along with a ♥ next to the items I have been able to check off. Thirteen in one year isn’t too shabby! I am going to try for fifteen this year!

40 for 40

  • Do 40 acts of kindness in the two months leading up to the big day-♥
  • Surf my first real wave
  • Get an article into a big parent mag like Family Fun or Parenting-♥
  • Sleep a night not under the same roof as Emma… Yes, you read that right. I have never slept a night away from her-♥
  • Take some photos of the Milky Way-♥ (need to do a re-do as these didn’t come out that well)
  • Learn to really change a flat tire on my bike
  • Hand out/donate a 100 dollar bill to someone in need
  • Finally go on a honeymoon with AJ
  • Use power tools to build something
  • Learn to cut our monthly grocery bill in half-♥ (need to do it consistenly month to month though)
  • Visit the Grand Canyon- ♥
  • Climb a 14er- yep lived in Colorado for how long and never have done it
  • Quit a bad habit- I think this should be drinking soda once and for all
  • Forgive the people that have hurt me in the past
  • See the glaciers in Alaska
  • Find ways to be grateful everyday-♥
  • Mash my own grapes to make wine
  • Make fresh pasta-♥ (AJ got me a gift card to do this… now I just need to sign up)
  • Write a note to each of my parents thanking them for the many things they have given me/ taught me
  • Have consistent child/parent market writing assignments- ♥
  • Revisit something I used to love to do but don’t do anymore-♥ (slowly getting back into photography)
  • Dip my toes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the same year-♥
  • Watch the leaves change colors on the East Coast
  • Make ice cream from scratch
  • Read a new book every month-♥
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Host a backyard movie night
  • Ride a horse on the beach
  • Send a message in a bottle
  • Pay for a strangers groceries
  • Visit a lighthouse
  • Run a trail half marathon
  • Take a road trip in a Vanagon
  • Plant an apple tree and grow my own apples
  • Participate on a run relay team like Ragnar
  • Volunteer for the Red Cross or other aid organization
  • Have three-four tech free days per month
  • Learn to live more simply by buying less-♥
  • Send a handwritten card/note to someone at least once a week
  • Make a perfect replica of the Marachino coffee drink I had in Rome, Italy

 

Adventure On,

Courtney

When a Summer Ends….

The kids are back to school. Mornings and evenings are cooler. I had some mixed emotions about the summer ending. I think the routine is good for Emma. She enjoys learning, her teachers and classmates. I’m enjoying time to workout, get in some writing and finish home projects. But, we also had so much fun visiting family, riding bikes and hanging with friends.

We ended summer with a bang. Starting in Scottsdale, AZ, we traveled for eight days with 11 members of my family (and about 25 more strangers) on a guided tour visiting three national parks and a few national monuments.

We recently created a thank you book for my parents for the trip (that I haven’t mailed yet- fail on my part).  I was interested to see what Emma remembered about the trip being that it was a few weeks ago already. She remembered details but mostly she remembered the time she had with her cousins. It’s tough not having family around. I am blessed that despite the age differences (all her cousins on my side are in high school or college), they all just love spending time with her.

Here are some fun summer stats.

Flights: 3 roundtrip flights

Days Spent With Family: 20 (not enough)

National Parks and National Monuments Visited: 8

Birthday Parties (some we missed): 8

Summer Camp Days: 11

Nights Camping: 5

Mosquito Bites Between the Three of us (approximate): 50

Days at the Beach/Lake: 8

Some of my favorite photos of the summer and the start of the school year!

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I finished my first piece for parksandpoints.com about our July trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I just finished up four pieces for ironman.com and am working on  two additional pieces for the website. I am also continuing to work on run guides for motivrunning.com.  I also finished some last minute proof reading work for Mountain Flyer. 

Click these live links for my latest pieces for ironman.com. 

Triathlete Affected by Hurricane Harvey Finds Hope

Paulo Figueiredo: Losing Weight and Finding Fitness

In Santa Cruz, Two New Knees and a Will to Finish

We spent Labor Day weekend in Utah visiting AJ’s sister and family. I love seeing the cousins interact. We went hiking, spent a day playing at the adventure park in Park City and hung out with family and friends. Thanks for always bringing such gracious hosts Kimball family!

Fall is coming, and I am so excited. It’s no secret its my favorite time of year. We were able to complete our summer bucket list and now are planning our fall one. Here’s to cooler temperatures, falling leaves and pumpkin carving!

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

Celebrating Ends

We spend a lot of time celebrating firsts with children but not a lot of thought is given to the ends (unless they are major like graduating). For the first time a few weeks ago, Emma asked me to leave her alone while she was working on an art project. To me, it was a signal of her gaining independence. It’s a joy to see her beam with pride when she accomplishes something herself without help.

She no longer has to have her beloved blanket and puppy she calls Bye (because she takes him when she goes bye bye) with her when we go to classes, school etc. In my mind, this is something to celebrate. It was always a mad dash to find them when we left to go some place. It was a fight to make her keep them in the car most of the time!

We just turned her playroom into a proper office and brought her toys to the basement. We can trust her to go down to the basement to play and trust her to go up to the loft area (the former office) that is now the crafting/art area. Now, I can cook dinner and let her play independently whether it is upstairs, in the basement or the backyard. I know she gets a boost in her confidence because she has gained our trust.

As much as I love no longer having toys strewn about from the playroom through the hallway and into the living room, I have vivid memories of trying to pass the time in the room before Dada got home from work and of trying to stay happy during the winter weather. AJ and Emma had one last block building session before the entire office changeover.

 

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One last block session 

Emma is also completely independent on her pedal bike now. No more back breaking helping her get started etc. It’s a celebration because now we get on our bikes together basically everyday to look for ants etc. We have a new activity we can do together as a family.

 

When one thing ends, one thing begins.

Adventure On,

Courtney

Finding Beauty

I wish I could be more like her in so many ways. But years of bad habits and negative thoughts have made it harder. But everyday, I try.

The person I am talking about is Emma. Last Friday as we drove to see Born in China on a gray and cold day, she still could look around and find beauty. She pointed out how cute the baby trees were. She mentioned the big storm drains and the little drains. She didn’t mention them for the aesthetic look but for the beauty in what drains do for us. We have talked many times about the purpose of drains while going on puddle jumps around the neighborhood. Today as she looked out the window at the snow, she mentioned how the melting snow will help water the grass, trees and plants. So, my goal is to find beauty in things for more reasons than for the looks of them.

I’m sad that Emma’s first trail running race was canceled for tomorrow, but it looks like the weather will improve the end of next week into the weekend. I know we will take advantage of it. And if I look at the situation through Emma’s eyes, we are getting much needed moisture after a fairly dry winter.

I am due for a post about the 40 Days Challenge. IMG_9560I did not complete 40 bags in  40 days. I did get up to 30 and still need to keep going. Circumstances may have us changing the now current playroom into an office, so Emma’s playroom will be moved into the basement. That will call for me to purge additional toys and really work on the basement purging. I did finally call Amvets to pick up six boxes of donations today clearing them out of the basement. I hope to clear out another four bins when our neighborhood garage sale happens in early June. Just like the turtle said, “Slow and steady wins the race!”

I am tickled by all the feedback my first Washington Post article has garnered. High school classmates, old friends and writing colleagues have been kind enough to comment, share and send their congrats! Thank you!

A fun article I wrote for Colorado Parent on National Clean Up Your Room Day just came out in the May issue. I wrapped up two posts for the Denver launch of mommynearest.com and am working on a third right now. I am beginning to work on one of my articles in a series of eight to nine articles about a triathlete named Marcus Cook as he leads up to Ironman Kona 2018. I pitched another article to the Post and am following up on past pitches.

Here’s to sunny skies, getting outside and enjoying time with family!

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Adventure On,

Courtney

2017- The Year Of Adventure

I found this post I began writing way back in February fitting to get up this week considering it is National Park Week. Enjoy free admission to any National Park through this Sunday April 23rd. Saturday also happens to be Earth Day- what a perfect combination.

So, let’s make the rest of 2017 all about adventure. No one said that changes can only come on January 1st. Change can be positive no matter when you start. The biggest obstacle is often just getting started.

I hate long car rides even if I don’t have to drive. Pre-Emma, I had this awesome ability to fall asleep almost instantly in the car. It was an awesome ability that made many jealous including my hubby AJ.

Now that we are older, have more expenses (especially Emma) and need more gear, hopping on planes is less of an option for us. That makes driving a reality that I will have to embrace if we want to go on more adventures. We already survived a seven hour car ride to Utah in March to visit my AJ’s family. We’ve booked some trips that will require longer periods of driving including a Memorial Weekend trip to Glenwood Springs and the Sand Dunes this summer in July.

Many people are amazed at on how many places we go with Emma. We started her off early heading up to the mountains when she was just a month old. She was in the BOB rolling along on runs almost right away. She was in the Chariot being pulled behind skis at before six months and took her first plane ride at five months. Between all that and classes too, she is used to going here and there and has learned that most often it means we are going some place fun!

If you always wanted to be more adventurous, why not start now? These tips below can help bring out the adventurer in your child (and maybe you too).

Get the lay of the land- when trying something, or some place new, give time to take it all in. Stand back and let your kiddo explore the space. It’s a good time for you to make yourself more aware of your surroundings too.

Put yourselves in their shoes- Remember that this will be new to them and think about even as an adult how you feel trying new things. Share experiences with them about how you felt trying something new for the first time.

Baby Steps– It’s more than likely it will take some easing into rather than jumping in full bore. With this in mind, baby steps are the way to introduce new things. Free trial classes are perfect for this.

Motivate but don’t over due it– I am so guilty of this. I can’t help giving Emma compliments but too much means she’s always looking for more. Case in point, this weekend we took her to the Teller Farms trail to ride her pedal bike. She would take off riding but eventually stop, drop her bike and run back to us asking if she did a good job.

Allow them to pick their own interests– Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. If you want to be more adventurous, search for interests you can share together.

Try new things/explore new places together- Believe it or not, I have never seen the Grand Canyon. I look forward to exploring this symbol of Americana with my little sunshine this summer along with my mom who hasn’t been there either.

Help them dust themselves off- If they are having trouble mastering something, be their cheerleader to try, try again. This is when the positive messages come in handy! Don’t be afraid of failure yourselves. Failure is sometimes the best way to learn.

Have fun- Remember the most important thing is to have fun.

 

 

 

Here is a slide show of some of the adventures my family has been on in 2017.

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Additional Free U.S. National Park Visit Days:

August 25- Birthday of the National Park Service

September 30- National Public Lands Day

November 11-12 Veterans Day Weekend

Adventure On,

Courtney