Digital Nomad Life: Month Fifty One

Month Fifty One saw me back to my old self – on the road!

Looking back it was kind of a crazy month – I visited three states and two countries while also working full time, but I loved it and really felt like myself again.

I started the month in Rapid City where I had one day left before we headed out to Badlands National Park via the small town of Wall and the famous (and gaudy) Wall Drug.

Overall I found Badlands a little dull, the overcast skies didn’t help, but I did love how close we got to some of the buffalo and there were more ground hogs than I have ever seen, and I adore those crazy little critters. 

Badlands National Park in South Dakota

From the Badlands we had a long drive back to Colorado through South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. It was pretty boring.

Back in Colorado we stopped by Fort Collins, which I absolutely loved, then had a night back in Denver before we headed into the mountains to do the two day return hike to Conundrum Hot Springs.

The hike was tougher than I thought it would be, and it was FREEZING at night, but the hot springs were incredible and the hike was beautiful.

Hiking to Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado

After a couple of nights in Leadville, working and relaxing, I dropped Toby in Vail and after a night in Denver, I drove up to Estes Park for the long weekend, via a working session at the very cool Rayback Collective in Boulder.

I loved my three nights in Estes Park, although the hostel I was staying at was pretty loud so I didn’t sleep well. I did a couple of great hikes in in Rocky Mountain National Park, explored the restaurant scene, and even went to the movies.

Hiking to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

From Estes Park I stopped in Boulder for lunch on the way back to Denver, then Broomfield to visit friends and hang out at their apartment complex pool for the afternoon.

I was only back in Denver for three nights before hitting the road again, this time flying to Seattle.

I had three wonderful nights in Seattle, seeing friends, visiting some of my favorite neighborhoods, and making it out to Bainbridge Island for the first time with a new travel friend.

Vancouver was my next stop, and I had nine wonderful, albeit mostly rainy nights there. I got into a good rhythm – waking up early to get my work hours in, then spending the afternoons and evenings exploring.

I also got to spend a good amount of time with friends, ate loads of delicious food, walked miles and miles, and even visited a couple of new to me places. It felt so good to be back!

Rainy day in Vancouver

From Vancouver I flew back to Denver for three nights where I was reunited with Toby after three weeks apart. We marched to the Capitol as part of the Climate Strike, and it felt good to be involved.

The last couple of days of the month we did a quick weekend road trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary – driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge, where the fall colors were peaking.

Now onto the Stats!

Fall colors in Breckenridge, Colorado

Countries Visited: USA, Canada

Places Visited:

  • USA
    • South Dakota: Rapid City, Wall, Wounded Knee
    • Colorado: Denver, Fort Collins, Idaho Springs, Silver Plume, Leadville, Aspen, Boulder, Estes Park, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake
    • Washington: Seattle, Bainbridge Island
  • Canada: Vancouver, Port Moody

National Parks and Monuments Visited: Badlands National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Islands Visited: Bainbridge Island, Granville Island

Best Meal: Wow did I eat some amazing food this month! Highlights were the chicken burger and spicy rice from one of my absolute favorites: Nandos (I ate this three times during my time in Vancouver); Pho Ga from Baoguette in Kerrisdale, Vancouver; Smoked and Candied Sockeye Salmon from Granville Island Market in Vancouver; Blueberry and White Chocolate Bread from Terra Breads in Vancouver; Sesame fries with miso gravy from The Naam in Vancouver; Vegetable Medley pie with mashed potato, gravy and mushy peas from Peaked Pies in Vancouver; Halibut fish and chips from Go Fish in Vancouver; Rosemary and rock salt bagel from Rosemary Rocksalt in Vancouver; Sour donut from Lucky’s in Vancouver; Sticky Toffee Pudding from The Magnet in Vancouver; Dim Sum from Jade Dynasty in Vancouver; Margherita pizza from Mountain Tap Brewery in Steamboat Springs: and the Californian Benedict from Winona’s in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Worst Meal: Slice Works pizza in Denver – it had good reviews and I was hoping for something great but it was just so-so.

Best Craft Beer: Blackberry Lemon Kettle Sour by Upslope Brewing Company; Strawberry Rhubarb Sour IPA by R&B Brewing in Vancouver; Blackberry sour by Twin Sails Brewing in Port Moody, Vancouver.

Hikes:

  • Notch Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota 1.5 miles/2.4km return
  • Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado 17 miles/27.5km return over two days
  • Gem Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 3.5 miles/5.5km return
  • Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 10 miles/16km
  • Third beach to English Bay section of sea wall in Stanley Park, Vancouver 1.5 miles/2.7km return
  • Shoreline trail in Port Moody, Vancouver 3.5 miles/5.6km return
  • Aspen Alley to Ice Rink trail in Breckenridge, Colorado 3.9 miles/6.5km
  • Section of Clear Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado 2 miles/3.3km return

Fall colors hiking near Boreas Pass in Breckenridge, Colorado

Reading: Nothing this month – too busy out exploring (and watching Netflix).

Watching: So many good Netflix shows this month! I really got into Mindhunter Season Two, Glow Season Three, Thirteen Reasons Why Season Three, and the limited series, Unbelievable.

Unbelievable is based on a true story about a series of rapes in Washington and Colorado that seemed to be unrelated at first, but two detectives from different precincts end up working together and realizing there are connections. It also focuses on a young woman who was the first rape victim and who is accused of lying, and the fallout for her from that. 

I admit that I went to see The Art of Racing in the Rain at the movies because I have a massive crush on Milo Ventimiglia, but I actually really ended up enjoying the movie. It is about a dog called Enzo, and his life with his owner Denny (Milo). Enzo is the narrator and it is a very sweet movie that has a lot of sadness in it too. 

Published on the Blog this Month:

Hiking on Kangaroo Island to a Secluded Beach – I updated this post about a beautiful hike I did on Kangaroo Island in Australia to a secluded beach.

The Best Cemeteries Around the World to Visit – I added to this mammoth post with more interesting and beautiful cemeteries I have visited over the years.

Highlights

Seeing Buffalo Close up in Badlands National Park

I have seen buffalo before in Yellowstone National Park and in Colorado, but never as close as I did in Badlands National Park. As a whole, I wasn’t super impressed by Badlands National Park – I found the scenery to be a bit dull, it’s just not my thing – but camping in the park by a large priarie dog town, then having a buffalo roam through our campsite was pretty awesome! 

We saw a few more buffalo the next day too, one scratching itself on a wooden fencing pole, and a couple down in the Badlands.

Buffalo in Badlands National Park

Discovering Some New Awesome Places in Colorado

I’m always trying to tick more places off my Colorado bucket list and this month I went to three new places, all of which I loved. On the way back down from South Dakota, we stopped in Fort Collins, a lively college town with lots of breweries. We went to Odell’s which has a great outdoor patio with food trucks and awesome beer.

Our second stop was Silver Plume, an old gold mining town just off the I-70. It was a mining town once, and the main street is home to a handful of old buildings, some that had been made into residences. 

Silver Plume in Colorado

The last new Colorado destination for the month was Independence ghost town, near the top of Independence Pass. It is one of the better ghost towns I have been to, with a lot of buildings still standing and a stunning location.

This state just keeps getting better and better!

Independence Ghost Town in Colorado

Backpacking Trip to Conundrum

We spent two days – one day in and one day out – hiking to a beautiful and natural hot spring in Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, and despite being tougher than we thought it would be, it was so worth it! 

The scenery was spectacular, we saw a moose, the stars were incredible at night, and we soaked in one of the most stunning hot springs I have ever seen. 

The bad was that the trail had loads of detours over avalanche debris making it longer and tougher, and it was freezing cold at night. But all in all it was pretty damn awesome.

Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado

Chilling out and Hiking in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

I really enjoyed my long weekend trip to Estes Park, it was both adventurous and relaxing – a nice balance of both. I did a hike that has been on my bucket list for ages – the 10 mile return Sky Pond trail in Rocky Mountain National Park – and it was so beautiful, with lots of wildlife and wild raspberries along the way.

Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

I also did the short but pretty Gem Lake trail in the park, explored the gift shops and restaurants in town, saw a movie at the historic Park Theater, and did a little self-guided tour of the Stanley Hotel – a haunted hotel that was inspiration for the hotel in Stephen King’s book, The Shining.

In the past I had only briefly passed through Estes Park so it was nice to dig a little deeper.

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Returning to Old Favorites in Seattle

Seattle is my favorite city in the US and I am always excited to return there, visiting all my favorite places. This time around I went to Gas Works Park with great views over Lake Union, checked out the Fremont Sunday Market, walked around Green Lake, wandered the waterfront and Pike Place Market, and went back to Capitol Hill to try a new to me restaurant.

It was a short but very sweet visit, and I am looking forward to hopefully spending more time there next year.

GasWorks Park in Seattle

A Day Trip to Bainbridge Island

Along with visiting some old favorites in Seattle, I also went somewhere new this time around: Bainbridge Island. It was an overcast today but the ferry trip there and back was still so pretty, and it was fun to explore the galleries, museums and shops of the small town center with a new travel friend that I met through a travel group. 

We did a wine tasting then Marta headed back to Seattle and I stayed for another hour to walk the riverside path and enjoy the island for longer. I would love to go back when it’s sunny and see more of this pretty and interesting island.

Bainbridge Island in Washington State

Pigging out in Vancouver

As you can see from my food highlights for the month, I ate very well during my time in Vancouver – it’s actually one of my favorite food cities in the world and it more than delivered on this most recent visit.

I was staying with a family through Airbnb and although I was allowed to use the kitchen, I didn’t want to get in their way during mealtimes so I ate out every day for lunch and dinner during my nine days in the city and enjoyed every moment of it. 

Vancouver excels at seafood, vegetarian food, donuts, asian food, pizza – pretty much everything, so I ate so many amazing meals. I can’t wait to return – once my waistline recovers.

Fish and Chips in Vancouver

Love, Love, Loving Vancouver

As usual, I was over the moon to be back in my beloved Vancouver, and although the weather didn’t cooperate for most of my stay, I still loved being back so much.

My whole stay was one big highlight but probably my absolute favorite experience was spending the afternoon biking around the seawall in Vancouver, where I saw raccoons, seals, and otters, swam at Third Beach, and visited the totem poles and viewpoints along the way. It was perfect, and one of the only times I saw proper sun during my time there.

Third Beach in Vancouver

Finally Visiting Port Moody

My friend Jasmine told me I should check out Port Moody a couple of years ago and I finally made it there on this visit to Vancouver. Port Moody is a city in the Metro Vancouver area that sits on Burrard Inlet and is surrounded by mountains.

There are a number of parks along the waterfront and a trail that links them all. I spent an hour or so walking along the trail through the woods skirting the water and it was so peaceful. Once I finished, I visited a couple of fantastic breweries – Twin Sails and Yellow Dog – and enjoyed a couple of brews in the sun. I finished my Port Moody afternoon with fish and chips down by the pier.

I loved my first visit to Port Moody and I’m sure I will be back.

Port Moody in Vancouver

Catching up with Friends in Far Away Places

One of my favorite things from my visit to Seattle and Vancouver was catching up with a number of friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. I had dinner with my friends Sam and Lindsay at their friend’s place in Seattle, and in Vancouver I had drinks and dinner with my high school friend Shaun and his wife Brittany, brunch with my friend Megan, and I caught up with my friend Chanika twice – first for dinner and drinks, then for a brewery crawl with some of her friends.

As I spend so much time apart from Toby during his busy work season, it is so nice to be able to catch up with friends.

Participating in the Climate Strike March in Denver

When I heard about the Climate Strikes going on around the world on Friday 20th September, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The 20th of September is also our wedding anniversary so luckily I convinced Toby to come with me.

We marched with hundreds of people from Union Station, down the 16th Street Mall to the Capitol. There were chants, there were speeches at the beginning and the end of the march, and I felt that I was really part of something important.

Climate March in Denver

Celebrating my One Year Wedding Anniversary

Along with attending the march, we spent the rest of the afternoon on Broadway, having lunch at the awesome Broadway Market food hall, eating Voodoo donuts, and bowling and drinks at Punchbowl Social. Then we went home and watched three movies in a row.

It was a pretty perfect first anniversary.

A Fall Colors Weekend in Colorado

Further one year wedding anniversary celebrations saw us doing a quick two day road trip to see some of the fall colors before Toby went off to work again. We drove Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake, then onto Steamboat Springs for the night, where we soaked at Strawberry Hot Springs.

Downtown Breckenridge, Colorado

We were a bit early for the elk rutting and most of the fall colors in the park, but we did see some patches of peak color on the way to Steamboat, then loads more the next day around Breckenridge and on Boreas Pass, where we did a stunning hike through golden aspens and past old mines.

I’m glad I won’t entirely miss fall in Colorado this year.

Fall colors in Colorado

Lowlights

Lots of Rain in the PNW

It rained a LOT during my 12 days in Seattle and Vancouver, and although I still had an amazing time, it did kinda suck – especially the weekend I had in Vancouver when I had big hiking plans but the weather was too shitty.

It can go either way in September and unfortunately this year, fall came early with lots of rain and cold weather.

Broken Camera

Just after we did the two day hike to Conundrum hot springs, my camera just stopped working. It wasn’t a very expensive camera so it wasn’t really worth trying to get it fixed – I have wanted to upgrade to a mirrorless for a while so now is a good time to do it, before our big trip. It’s just a shame that I didn’t have a camera for my Pacific North West trip.

Stuck in Crazy Traffic

One of the things that I hate about Colorado is the crazy traffic jams when you drive back into Denver after a weekend away, and the one we got stuck in after our anniversary weekend away was a doozy. 

We were in practically stand still traffic for two hours. I hated it.

Totem poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Spending

Total: USD$2908

I was living large this month, on the road the whole time and not really worrying about how much money I was spending which was a nice break from how I usually live. While I am working a full time remote position as well as doing my regular Virtual Assistant work, I can afford to throw caution to the wind a bit in terms of my finances.

Accommodation $946.50

My paid accommodation this month consisted of one night camping at Conundrum Hot Springs, two nights at an Airbnb in Leadville, one night at an Airbnb in Wheat Ridge, three nights at a hostel in Estes Park, three nights at an Airbnb in Denver, three nights at an Airbnb in Seattle, and nine nights at an Airbnb in Vancouver.

For the rest of the month, I spent two nights free camping, three nights with family, and four nights housesitting in Denver.

Downtown Leadville, Colorado

Food and Drink $1043

I spent a lot on food and drink this month as I was basically traveling the whole month and eating out a lot! I kind of just completely let go of being budget conscious this month. I have gained a few pounds but is was very fun doing it.

Clothing $41

  • Summer dress $41

Transport $510.50

  • Gas $94.50
  • Airport Parking $10
  • Flight from Denver to Seattle $93.50
  • Ubers $7.50
  • Seattle Public Transport $25
  • Lime bike hire $3.50
  • Vancouver Public Transport $42
  • Bainbridge Island ferry $9
  • Bus from Seattle to Vancouver $24.50
  • Vancouver Bike Hire $9
  • Flight from Vancouver to Denver $192

Activities $35

  • Movie ticket – The Art of Racing in the Rain $10
  • Bowling $10
  • Strawberry Hot Springs entry $15

Other $250

  • Toiletries $27
  • Gifts $46
  • Sticker $3
  • Phone $40
  • Hulu $6
  • Camping Gear $26
  • Travel mug $22
  • Laundry $3
  • Bracelet $9
  • Haircut $16
  • Halloween costume $52

Website Costs $12

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12

Van Costs $70

  • New windshield $70

Hiking near Breckenridge, Colorado

What’s in Store for Next Month

Month Fifty Two will be a little less crazy, with the first half of the month housesitting in Denver, followed by two more weeks of travel.

I’m looking forward to slowing down for a bit, being able to cook again, and having a bit of routine – even for only two weeks. I also want to catch up with friends, go for lots of walks around Wash Park with the dog, and do some hikes near Denver.

I will also be sitting my Colorado written and driving tests so I will have to study for that – wish me luck!

The second half of month I will be back on the road, first stop: Vegas!

I will be joining Toby for the last four days he will be there working the Rise Festival, and will be going to the festival myself. Hopefully it won’t be called off at the last minute like last year – I really want to see the lanterns this time!

I am also planning on lots of pool time, hitting up one of the buffets, and going to see the Beatles Cirque du Soliel show, Love. 

From Vegas, we fly overnight to Boston, where we have a day and a night, before picking up a rental car and driving to Newport for two days for a family wedding.

After the wedding we are spending six days roadtripping through New England to admire the fall colors – I’m hoping to travel up the coast to Portland, Maine then inland through New Hampshire, Vermont, Upstate New York and Massachusetts, before returning to Boston for one more night. Lobster and apple cider donuts – here I come!

Toby flies back to Denver from there and I take a bus to New York City, to spend the last three nights of the month staying with my friend Dani, checking out the fall colors in Central Park and eating lots of pizza and bagels.

It’s going to be a good one!

To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here

Breckenridge Troll in Breckenridge, Colorado

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