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Wow Month Thirty Nine was a crazy one, so crazy in fact that I am only getting around to writing about it now – two weeks late.
I started the month in Illinois where I visited the interesting Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park – what is left of what was once the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico!
From Cahokia, I stopped briefly in Soulard, St Louis for lunch, then picked Toby up at the airport in Kansas City.
We spent two nights between the vibrant college town of Lawrence, and in Kansas City staying with Toby’s work mates who kindly showed us around – we ate out at the best places, played frisbee golf, played volleyball in the pool and went out for a night on the town in Kansas City – it was a blast!
After stopping for the night in the tiny town of Goodland, Kansas, we were back in Denver, where we pretty much stayed for the rest of the month, prepping for the wedding and welcoming my friends and family who were coming in from out of state, New Zealand, Australia and even Denmark.
We did leave Denver for a few nights, including three nights for a housesit in Green Mountain Falls, where I finally got to do the famous Incline hike, as well as soaking in the hot tub and playing skee ball in Manitou Springs, as well as a couple of nights camping in Vail and Estes Park, where the fall colors were already coming in which made for some beautiful hiking.
It was really nice to spend some time in and around Denver because we actually aren’t there that much usually, and I got to hit up my favorite places, and introduce my friends and family to this awesome city. I even got to hike a couple of 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet) – my first, but definitely not my last.
And then we had the wedding – which was just such an incredible day, definitely one of the best of my life.
Month Thirty Nine was an action-packed month that was so full of love, spent with my favorite people in one of my favorite places in the world. I am a lucky, lucky girl.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- Illinois: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park
- Missouri: St Louis, Kansas City
- Kansas: Lawrence, Goodland
- Colorado: Denver, Brighton, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Idaho Springs, Vail, Frisco, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
National Parks and Monuments Visited: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Islands Visited: No islands this month
Best Meal: I loved the blackened whitefish with herbed rice and vegetables from 1880’s in Soulard, St Louis; the Creole Bowl with BBQ shrimp and creamy Chipotle grits from Mile High Cajun Food truck in Denver; my pineapple and kalamata olive (my favorite toppings) mountain pie from Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs; all the amazing pizza and salad from Mountain Crust Pizza Food Truck (our wedding caterer!); and the lemon roasted chicken with brocolli rabe and roast potatoes from Denver Central Market.
Worst Meal: My vegan pizza from Alamo Drafthouse. I really didn’t like the vegan cheese on it – it was weird and slimy.
Best Craft Beer: Guavatas Sour from Free State Brewery in Lawrence, Kansas – Kansas really does have some great beer.
- Loop trail in Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park, Illinois 2 miles/3.2km
- Sloan Lake loop trail in Denver, Colorado 2.6 miles/4km
- Incline trail and Barr trail loop hike in Manitou Springs, Colorado 4.2 miles/6.8km
- Washington Park loop in Denver, Colorado 2.3 miles/3.7km
- Gray’s and Torrey’s 14er return hike 8.5 miles/13.5km
- Gore Valley Trail in Aspen, Colorado 5.6 miles/9km return
- Emerald Lake trail and Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 4.4 miles/7km
- St Mary’s Glacier trail in Idaho Springs, Colorado 1.9 miles/3km return
I started to reread The Stand by Stephen King this month but barely put a dent in it because I have been so busy. Love me some Stephen King and this is a great one.
Orange is the New Black Season Six. OITNB has been a favorite of mine since it started but I was not a fan of Season Five – it seemed like the series had been played out and I almost didn’t even bother watching Season Six. But I am so glad I did! Season Six was one of the best seasons yet and I was totally enthralled again. Now I can’t wait for Season Seven.
We also went to see Blackklansman at Alamo Draft House this month and I really liked the movie – even more so because it was a true story. The movie is directed by Spike Lee and follows the first black police officer in Colorado Springs that goes undercover, with his white partner, to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
Night out in Kansas City
My opinion that Kansas City was a bit meh was quickly changed when we spent a night out with locals there. We started with amazing BBQ at Jack Stack’s then followed that up with some live jazz and delicious cocktails at the speakeasy-esque Green Lady Lounge. I loved this place – very low key on the outside but classy and lively on the inside. It was a fun night with great people.
Spending Time With the New Kitties
I am a proud Auntie to two gorgeous little bundles of joy – Milo and Millie, the cutest little kittens out there. I have absolutely adored spending time with these two little cuties the last couple of months.
Anyone who says cats aren’t cuddly or don’t have distinct personalities don’t know cats – these two are both so loving and sweet, and Milo is shaping up to be an adventure kitty and already has his own little harness and leash to go walking. We took him to the park one busy Sunday and he spent the time between napping in his cat cage and out exploring on his leash. I hope we can take him hiking once he gets a bit bigger!
Tubing in Golden
I have been wanting to go tubing down Clear Creek in Golden for over two years now, and this month we finally made it happen! The water was FREEZING and the weather quickly turned and got rainy and cold, but it was so fun going over the rapids, and beautiful too. We will definitely be doing more tubing in Golden, and in Boulder, next summer.
Conquering my First 14ers
I also did something else that I have wanted to do for a long time this month – hike a 14er. And I didn’t just hike one 14er for my first time, I hiked two in one day! I was up at 4.30am to get out to and then hike the 8.5 miles return to the summits of Torrey’s and Gray’s, near Idaho Springs.
There were five of us that did it and it was just a perfect day – the weather was fabulous, the views incredible, we saw pika, marmots, deer and mountain goats, and the company was great. We were treated to the beginnings of the fall colors too. It was tough and I was utterly shattered afterwards, but in a really good way. Can’t wait to hike more 14ers next year!
Hiking the Incline in Manitou Springs
I have wanted to hike the Incline – super steep stairs that go up the side of a mountain, since I first heard about them a couple of years ago. It was pretty damn tough – you gain 2,000 feet in less than a mile – but I felt so good that I made it to the top, and the Barr trail on the way down was beautiful too.
I really want to do my first long multi-day hike – the longest I have done so far is only four days – in the next couple of years, so completing smaller challenges like the Incline makes me feel like I am working towards gaining the fitness to complete that goal.
Sharing Denver with my Kiwi and Aussie Friends and Family
I have come to love Denver over time – the breweries, the growing food scene, the wild river that runs through the city, and the parks – so it was a pleasure to show off my kinda home city to my best friends and family that were in town for the wedding. We hit up my favorite breweries, restaurants, street art, and parks in Denver, and also did a couple of day trips to Red Rocks, Idaho Springs and St Mary’s Glacier – everyone loved it and it made me proud to call this city my home base.
The Best Bachelorette Ever
My bride crew really hit it out of the park wth my bachelorette and really showed me how well they know me. We started with a boozy picnic in Confluence Park – one of my favorites, followed by a cocktail at the speakeasy William’s and Graham, dinner at Avanti and then Forbidden Naughty Bingo at the Marion Street Tavern.
At bingo I was given some tasks – like getting a piggyback from a random guy and drinking a body shot out of the bartender’s hairy belly button (I was already pretty drunk for that one) and after bingo we moved on to a couple of dive bars for pizza and dancing. I had a pretty hefty hangover the next day but it was such a fun night – totally worth it.
My First Ever Spa Day
I have never been a high maintenance kinda girl, and although I have had a few massages in my life, and one pedicure done by a local lady in a park in Ho Chi Minh City, I have never had a real spa day before – and that is what my amazing bride crew treated me to the day after my bachelorette.
I got a manicure and pedicure, a massage, and spent the rest of the day in a robe in the relaxation room, steaming in the steam room or soaking in the jacuzzi. It was bliss, despite the hangover. There will definitely be more spa days in my future.
The Wedding Day of my Dreams
I still can’t believe how well the wedding went – there were no big issues during the set up, ceremony and reception and it all turned out even better than I imagined. I was quite proud of myself that I planned everything and it went off without a hitch – largely in thanks to my fantastic DJ and Day of Planner who ran things on the day.
The weather was beautiful, the food was perfect (pizza food trucks all the way!), the after party was lit, and it was so fantastic to share this special day with friends and family. It truly was a magical day that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Enjoying the Early Autumn Colors in the Rockies
The autumn colors came early to the Rockies this year, much to my delight. Even though I was busy with wedding stuff, I still managed to spend a couple of nights camping and enjoying the colors in Vail and Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as day trips hiking 14ers and to glaciers. Fall is my favorite time of year in Colorado and I’m glad I got to enjoy it this year.
Killed my Phone
I have been wanting to replace my piece of crap phone for a while – the battery was always dying in just a few hours, and as it was a Verizon phone and I’m with T-Mobile, my voicemail and SMS functions didn’t work properly. I had been putting it off but once I dropped my phone on a concrete floor – the decision was made for me.
The frustrating thing was that it took a week to receive my new phone (I got a good deal online) so I had to try navigating Denver by myself with no phone (Toby was working out of town). It was a big pain in the ass but I am so glad to finally have a new phone that works properly.
Nothing went wrong per se, but just the weight of wedding planning coupled with trying to entertain and catch up with everyone that was in town for the wedding was stressful. I loved my wedding and I am so happy that so many people that I love and care about were able to attend, but I am also glad that it is done now – my stress levels have definitely dropped.
I was really burning the candle at both ends this month, moving accommodation every couple of days, catching up with everyone that came into town for the wedding, and sorting some last minute wedding arrangements, not to mention physically setting up the wedding ourselves on the day. I felt pretty exhausted a lot of the time but it was 100% worth it for a once in a lifetime experience.
An Inconvenient Time for a Toothache
Because of the exhaustion, I had a toothache in my rear wisdom tooth flare up – this tends to happen a couple of times a year and passes after about a week. But the timing couldn’t have been worse – the pain started just a couple of days before the wedding. Luckily on the wedding day it wasn’t too bad and I was able to enjoy the day relatively pain free.
Computer Charger Breaking
Just to add to my wedding stress, my computer charger had been not working properly for a couple of weeks, then a few days before the wedding, I couldn’t get it to work at all. We had to squeeze a visit to Best Buy into our busy schedule and luckily I didn’t need to replace the whole charger – Macbook chargers are stupidly expensive – but just part of it.
Snafu with my Visa Application
Again, just a few days before the wedding, I got a letter from USCIS stating that they were missing the copy of my wedding certificate from my visa application – something that I definitely included.
I am still unsure what happened and I tried calling around to find out if it was just missing or if there was something wrong with it – but they make it really hard to find out so I just sent another copy in. Fingers crossed that is all they need.
The most expensive month in my nomadic years for sure – mostly due to the wedding. Luckily I had budgeted for that and only ended up going a couple of hundred dollars over budget. Next month will absolutely, definitely be so much less than this month, as all visa and wedding costs are pretty much done and dusted.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of one night in a cheap motel in Goodland, Kansas, one night camping in Estes Park, Colorado and three nights in a rental house in Golden, Colorado. I also spent ten nights housesitting – split between Denver, Arvada and Green Mountain Falls, Colorado; one night free camping in Vail, Colorado; one night with friends in Kansas City, Missouri; one night with friends in Lawrence, Kansas; and thirteen nights with family in Denver.
Food and Drink $663.50
Not as bad as I thought it would be considering all the eating and drinking out I did for the two weeks over the wedding with friends and family. Hoping to get it down a bit though for next month.
- Bra inserts for Wedding Dress $11
- Spanx $18
- Gas $202
- Ubers around Denver $20
- One Year America the Beautiful National Park Pass $40 (my half)
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park Entry Fee $5
- Alamo Drafthouse Movie Ticket $14
- Skee Ball $3.50
Visa Costs $6.50
- Postage for Marriage Certificate $6.50
Vehicle Costs $73.50
- Wood and varnish for Van interior work $17.50
- Car Power Inverter $26
- Oil Change $30
Wedding Costs $2037.50
- Wedding dress dry cleaned $225
- Decorations $124.50
- Wedding Catering $911
- Venue Cleaner $60
- Vendor tips $90
- Groceries for wedding appetizers $75
- Bar tender and Alcohol for Wedding $552
No one ever said weddings were cheap. All in all the wedding cost us about $11,500 for everything (except for clothing and bridesmaids dresses) – still not bad for a 90 person wedding at a beautiful venue in the mountains.
- Phone Credit $48
- Toiletries $33
- Handbag strap fixed $8
- Tubing tube $7.50
- New Samsung Galaxy S7 $189
- Macbook Air Computer Travel Adaptor Kit $37
What’s in Store for Next Month
After a couple of nights catching up on work, packing away wedding decorations etc, Toby, Dad and I will be hitting the road for four nights in Northern New Mexico, where we will be hosted by Toby’s Dad.
He will be taking us on a winery tour and we are also planning on showing Dad around Santa Fe, Taos, Chimayo and going for a soak at Ojo Caliente.
After dropping Toby at the airport in Albuquerque, Dad and I will head on a one week road trip – we are planning to hit up six National Parks – Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion – as well as catching the last of the fall colors in Silverton, Ouray and Telluride.
Dad has rented a Juicy camper with a Penthouse – this will be my bed for the next week and I am excited to try it out.
After a week of full on roadtripping and National Parks exploring, I will be catching up with Toby in Vegas, where he is setting up the Rise Lantern Festival. He has got Dad and I tickets for the Saturday night.
I have four nights in Vegas total, and I don’t have a lot planned other than catching up on work, lazing by the pool and spending a day or evening re-exploring the Strip.
Then Toby and I fly back to Denver for eleven days, where he will be working, and I will be volunteering, at a Fall Pumpkin Festival.
I am hoping we also get some free time to do some fun fall activities and catch up with everyone (including the kitties, of course) before we head off on our big Southern Road Trip on the last day of the month.
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here