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Digital Nomad Life Month Sixty TwoLike last month, month sixty two was mostly spent in Denver, but we did squeeze a few one night camping trips in as well as hiking day trips to various places along the Front Range.

After moving around so much to different housesits and staying with different people, we decided to rent a one bedroom apartment for a month and it was so, so nice to have our own space where we could cook, relax, and where I could focus on working and my health.

Hiking near Boulder

I got so much behind the scenes stuff done on this website which felt great, as well as continuing my goal of walking or hiking 5 miles or more a day, five to six days per week. I did some stunning hikes in the Front Range and even managed to drag Toby along on a couple, as well as enjoying my local neighborhood and lake walks while listening to my favorite podcasts.

When I wasn’t working hard on this site or my fitness goals, we managed to squeeze in three 1 night getaways in Colorado.

We did a night camping at Boyd Lake where we got out on the lake on a friend’s boat, swam at the beach and explored nearby Loveland. A day hiking a 14er – Mount Elbert – and camping the night before at the trailhead campground. And two days exploring some new to me places – Florissant National Monument, Cripple Creek and Victor.

Old Mine Near Cripple Creek

I also returned to one of my favorite little mountain towns, Manitou Springs, where I reaffirmed that I am much better at skee ball than Toby, and I did day hikes in Boulder, Nederland, Golden, and Idaho Springs.

We moved out of our little basement apartment towards the end of the month, and spent the last three nights staying with an Auntie and Uncle in Aurora, and it was so fun to catch up with them, the grandkids and lots more of the family at one of the youngest family member’s 4th birthday party.

Even though we were mostly in one place, I feel like we still did a lot this month and overall it was another great one – all things considered.

Now onto the stats.

Rocky Mountain Lake in Denver

Countries Visited: USA

Places Visited:

USA

  • Colorado: Denver, Nederland, Golden, Boulder, Loveland, Idaho Springs, Victor, Cripple Creek, Manitou Springs, Leadville, Aurora

National Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Florissant National Monument

Islands Visited: No islands this month

Best Meals: This month I enjoyed the veggie burger from The Yellow Deli in Boulder, the Indian Taco with beans, hominy, tomato and green chile from Tocabe in Denver, the spinach empanada from Maria Empanada at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, and the Sweety Pie (no meat) Detroit style pizza with pineapple, ricotta and jalapeño from Blue Pan Pizza in Denver.

Stanley Marketplace in Aurora

Worst Meals: Catfish Louisiane from Betta Gumbo in Loveland – I just really didn’t like the catfish, and the etoufee was bland.

Best Craft Beer: New Wave Strawberry Berliner Weisse from Ratio Beerworks in Denver, Jungle Book Slushie from Baere Brewing Co in Denver, and the Strawberry Milkshake IPA from De Steeg Brewing in Denver were my favorites this month.

Hikes:

  • Crater Lakes via Moffat Tunnel in Rollinsville, CO 7.2km/4.5 miles
  • Rocky Mountain Lake, Berkeley Lake, Tennyson & Highlands Square loop walk in Denver, CO 9.7km/6 miles
  • Shadow Canyon loop trail in Boulder, CO 9.7km/6 miles
  • Herman Gulch trail near Idaho Springs, CO 11.3km/7 miles
  • Sloan’s Lake loop and Highlands walk in Denver, CO 12.5km/7.8miles
  • Flagstaff Mountain via Gregory Canyon trail in Boulder, CO 9.7km/6 miles
  • Sawmill and Petrified Forest Loops in Florissant National Monument, CO 5.8km/3.6 miles
  • Mount Elbert North trail near Leadville, CO 17.7km/11 miles
  • Dakota Ridge trail near Golden, CO 9.7km/6 miles
  • El Dorado Canyon trail near Boulder, CO 11km/6.8 miles
  • Clear Creek trail in Wheat Ridge, CO 8.5km/5.3 miles
  • Toll Gate Creek trail in Aurora, CO 6.8km/4.2 miles

Hiking in El Dorado Canyon State Park

Watching: Masterchef Junior (addictive!), Little Fires Everywhere (soooo good!)

Reading: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.

Posts Published on The World on my Necklace This Month:

The Ultimate Northland Road Trip: Auckland to Cape Reinga

I revamped and republished my detailed guide to roadtripping the subtropical Northland Region of New Zealand, home to some of the country’s best beaches.

22 Best Ways to Spend One Day in Auckland

I completely updated and added to my days out in Auckland guide, with 22 ideas of how to spend a great day out in Auckland.

The Best Small Towns in Massachusetts

Another post that I updated and added to after my second visit to Massachusetts in fall last year. A great post if you are looking for some fall travel inspiration for beyond Boston in Massachusetts.

Garibaldi Lake Hike: The Best Vancouver Day Hike

Updated and republished, this guide is to hiking the stunning Garibaldi Lake, an easy day trip from Vancouver or Whistler.

Highlights

Rocking my Fitness and Health Goals

My goal of working on my fitness and health by cutting down on carbs, dairy and sugar, and walking or hiking 5 miles or more for 5-6 days a week was definitely met this month and I felt great for it.

I think that I even lost some weight (I don’t have scales) – or at least inches because my clothes are fitting me better now and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to do this.

I also feel stronger and can hike harder and for longer without getting as tired, and it feels so good!

Hiking Mount Elbert in Colorado

All the Amazing Hikes in the Mountains

I have loved all the hikes I have done this month and discovered some really great ones close to Denver. Herman Gulch and Crater Lakes were so pretty with lots of wildflowers, Dakota Ridge has fantastic views over Red Rocks, and I loved hiking around Boulder to Flagstaff Mountain and El Dorado Canyon.

Denver really is so close to so much beauty in the mountains.

Herman Gulch hike near Idaho Springs

More Great Wildlife Spotting

With all the time I spent in the mountains during the past month, came a lot of great wildlife spots. Along with seeing lots of marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and pikas (love them!), I also saw a marmot carrying its baby in its mouth like a cat (I didn’t even know they did that!), two minks when I was wandering around Benson Sculpture Garden, and deer in El Dorado Canyon.

Exploring Cripple Creek and Victor

I had been wanting to visit the old mining town of Cripple Creek for a long time. Like Central City and Black Hawk, the town has reinvented itself as a mini Vegas, with small casinos throughout town in the historic buildings.

They have managed to keep it tasteful, with the original building fronts and new larger buildings fitting in with the style of the town. We did a little gambling as well as taking the scenic Cripple Creek Railroad, and exploring the old mines near town.

Cripple Creek Railroad

Along with Cripple Creek, we also visited the nearby town of Victor, which is also a historic mining town, one of my all-time favorite mountain towns – Manitou Springs, and Florissant National Monument (more on that below).

Victor, Colorado Main Street

Visiting Florissant National Monument

I had never even heard of Florissant National Monument until I was researching where to go near Cripple Creek. It’s crazy that this National Monument that is within weekend roadtripping distance from Denver isn’t more popular. It may be small but it is definitely interesting, if you are into natural history at least.

Florissant National Monument in ColoradoThe National Monument is home to 34 million year old fossilized Redwood tree stumps – yes, there used to be Redwoods in Colorado! While the trees rotted away, the stumps were preserved in ash from a volcanic eruption and now look crystallized.

I did a hike through the forest, checked out all the stumps, visited the old Homestead in the park, and enjoyed learning about what Colorado looked like 34 million years ago, and about early tourism to the area.

Crystallised tree stump in Florissant National Monument

Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland

On the way to Boyd Lake to camp with Toby’s friends, we decided to stop in Loveland for a couple of hours because I had never been there before. While the town itself wasn’t particularly interesting, I really enjoyed the beautiful Benson Sculpture Garden.

The garden is set in a lush, green park with a lake in the middle, with various sculptures set all around the park. I loved just wandering through the park and coming across sculptures as I went – it was a relaxing way to spend an hour.

Sculpture in Benson Sculpture Garden

Surviving Mount Elbert – My Fourth 14er!

I set my sights a bit higher with my 14er choice for this year! Mount Elbert near Leadville is known as one of the “easier” 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet), but no 14er is truly easy and Mount Elbert is longer than the other 14ers I have done, as well as being the second highest peak in the lower 48 states, so I knew it was going to be a big challenge.

We spent the evening before camping in the campground near the trailhead then got up at 4.30am to start hiking. The trail started out gradual but by the time we were half way and out of the treeline it got a lot steeper and more challenging. With two false summits, we were so happy when we finally reached the top, and I actually still felt good.

The last two miles on the way down were tough though and felt like they went on forever – but I made it and I am proud of myself for completing it! It was beautiful, challenging, exhausting and amazing.

Summit of Mount Elbert in Colorado

A Family Birthday

Because of COVID and family members being more scattered around the country, we haven’t seen a lot of Toby’s extended family this summer. So I’m really glad we got to spend a couple of nights at Auntie Patsy and Uncle Kip’s where Toby set up an obstacle course in the garage for his cousin Ticia’s youngest son’s birthday.

While it was only a small gathering, it was so fun to hang out with some of the family and the kids, and I am hoping we can see everyone again before I head back to New Zealand in October.

Lowlights

Smoke in Denver

Wow, the Colorado fires have been bad this summer and Denver’s skies for the last couple of weeks of the month were really smoky. It’s so sad to see how widespread they have been in Colorado and California – it just seems to get worse every year.

Not Sleeping Well

I’m not sure what it was, but I really struggled to get a good sleep at the apartment we were renting. Maybe the bed was too soft, or it was the fact that we didn’t have air-con so some nights got a bit hot – or maybe it was just the worrying about the shambles the US and the rest of the world is in right now. Probably all of the above.

Overheating on a Hike

Denver has been so hot this summer, so I have been trying to get out on hiking trails as early as possible to avoid the worst of it. Despite starting the Dakota Ridge trail above Golden reasonably early, it was a particularly hot day and the second half of the hike was hotter than hell. I nearly ran out of water too which got a bit scary.

I really have to learn to not underestimate the heat and heat stroke!

View over Red Rocks from Dakota Ridge

Overrated Pike’s Peak: America’s Mountain

Possibly the biggest tourist attraction in Colorado is the drive or cog railway trip to the top of Pike’s Peak and I finally did it when we visited nearby Manitou Springs. 

This mountain is known as America’s Mountain because the lyrics to the song ‘America the Beautiful’ were inspired by Pike’s Peak after the writer of the song Katharine Lee Bates climbed it. I think she would be pretty horrified if she saw the top of America’s Mountain now. 

We drove the first part and then took a shuttle the rest of the way and that was fine, with beautiful views along the way. But once we got to the top it was all downhill from there. It is a massive construction zone and there were way too many people milling around – lining up to get into the overpriced gift shop, lining up to get the shuttle back down with no social distancing. I hated it.

I think I will be hiking all my 14ers from now on because the over-commercialisation and overcrowding of America’s Mountain took away any pleasure I got from the beautiful views. 

Top of Pike's Peak in Colorado

Spending

Total: USD$2136

The month that I actually mostly stay put in Denver has been the most expensive this year! Paying for almost a month’s rent in an apartment in Denver sure ain’t cheap, and the van had to have a lot of things fixed this month so it ended up getting expensive.

Accommodation $843

My paid accommodation this month consisted of 28 nights in an Airbnb apartment in Denver, and one night at a camping ground by Mount Elbert near Leadville, Colorado. These costs are split with Toby and what I have reported is my half.

The rest of the month I spent three nights staying with family in Aurora, Colorado.

Food and Drink $656

I cooked for most meals this month and my spend was still high – groceries end up costing more than you think, especially if you are buying good quality ingredients.

Clothing $0

Transport $124

  • Gas $104
  • Ubers $20

Activities $55

  • Boyd Lake State Park entrance fee $5
  • Gregory Canyon trailhead parking $5
  • Skee Ball $5
  • Pike Peak Entrance $15
  • Cripple Creek Railroad $15
  • El Dorado Canyon entrance fee $10

Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland

Other $224.50

  • Toiletries $9
  • Hulu $6
  • Kindle Unlimited $11
  • Phone plan $40
  • Parking ticket $25
  • Laudromat $4.50
  • Frying pan $4
  • Gambling $5
  • 5 x cloth masks $20
  • Gifts $100

Website Costs $12

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12

Van Costs $221.50

  • Windscreen wipers $12.50
  • Van registration $91
  • Van renovation stuff $20.50
  • Van sway bar fixed $38.50
  • Van alignment $45
  • Tire patched $14

Geez, Casper the van cost us a fortune this month! Luckily all the work we had planned for him has been done. Hopefully nothing else will crop up in the next couple of months. All costs are half the total spend as Toby paid the other half.

Wildflowers on Crater Lakes trail

What’s in Store for Next Month

I’m a bit late to the party with writing and publishing this and I am already well into Month 63 in real time. Month 63 is allll about roadtripping and so far I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring some new to me places in Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as visiting some friends and family along the way.

We will be traveling for just under a month from Denver to Salt Lake City, then all through southern Idaho and to a few spots in Montana and Wyoming as we make our way slowly back to Denver.

I have been and will continue to do lots of mountain hiking, ghost town exploring, brewery sampling, hot springs soaking, waterfall chasing, and wildlife watching along the way – so many of my favorite things!

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

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