Weekend Recap: Summer is (Almost) Here!

This weekend started earlier than most! I’ve been desperately needing a vacation for a while, but last month, realized that taking a day off every month was probably going to be the best I could do for a while. I was booked for training all day Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, and the session wrapped up too late for me to catch a flight home that night, so I decided to stick around, take a half day on Friday, and spend Friday morning soaking up the sun before flying home that afternoon. It was fabulous!

Some sand between my toes, a book in my hand, and the sound of the ocean waves in my ears. This is heaven.

Work calls ended up interrupting my beach time more than I would have liked, so I only ended up getting about 2 hours actually out on the sand. On the bright side, that was the perfect amount to get a bit of a tan without having to worry about a burn. Plus, I got halfway through a light chick lit book in that time – Wedding Girl, by Stacey Ballis. Her books are always smart and light and funny, and since they’re usually about chefs and include recipes in the back, they also make me hungry! In particular, I really want to try Sophie’s Mom’s Noodle Kugel – I was a little bummed to have to make matzoh kugel for Sarah’s Passover Seder a few weeks ago, and now I kind of want to try my hand at the noodle kind 🙂

End_of_Vacation

Alas, all good things must come to an end.

My flight home was uneventful and I was able to get a ton of work done then, and some more in the early evening once I was home. I also was able to squeeze in a quick 3 mile run around my  neighborhood, which was sunny and with temps in the 80s. It was almost like I never left Florida!

South_Rock_Creek_Pond

This pond is around the 2 mile mark of my favorite neighborhood 3 mile route, and I stop for a photo almost every time. I love seeing the houses juxtaposed against the mountains!

And after that: time for me to eat some deliciousness. A friend came over and we enjoyed lobster ravioli and wine out on the deck. Summer is here!

Deck_Is_Ready_For_Summer

Between the gorgeous cobalt outdoor rug my mom gave me for my birthday last summer, and the stunning pink blooms on the trees in my backyard, I love the visuals from my deck almost as much as I loved the ocean views in Florida.

Saturday, for the first time in a very long time, I had almost no plans for the day. Usually that would stress me out, but I’ve been finding myself embracing the idea of an open calendar – no obligations, and I can do whatever I want. I think with all the stress / obligations of work, I’m starting to really relish having more down time rather than always being on the go. I wasn’t exactly lazy, though – I started the (late) morning out with a quick 3.6 mile loop of one of my favorite trails, Flatirons Vista.

Starting_the_Flatirons_Vista_Trail_Loop

This is the start of the trail – the mountain only get more majestic the closer you run to them. See why I love it??

I headed home quickly when I was done, but didn’t jump in the shower yet. I still had more getting sweaty and dirty to do!

Last summer, I hired a landscaper to come out and evaluate my yard and garden, then put together a plan for what types of plants would do well where. I have one really problematic area: the side yard on the south side of my house. It’s a pretty steep slope, but it’s the side the gate is on so there has to be a pathway down. I have a few pavers set into the slope as steps, but it’s nearly impossible to mow, and the grass grows patchy over there anyway. My landscaper suggested planting Turkish speedwell, a low ground cover that spreads fast and wouldn’t require much upkeep, but I hadn’t yet gone to the expanse of ordering the ton of it I knew I’d need. (At least if I wanted it to look decent quickly, rather than being patient and waiting a few years.) Well, on Friday one of my neighbors posted on our neighborhood listserv that she had a ton of it she wanted dug up – and that anyone who wanted some could come by and take it! I immediately got in touch with her to get as much of it as possible, and we settled on Saturday at 1pm for me to come over.

I didn’t really know what to expect with digging up the speedwell – I’m hardly an experienced gardener! At Kathy’s suggestion, I brought a bunch of plastic bags and cardboard boxes, but on my way down to her house, I passed another neighbor who had a bunch of plastic bins by the curb with a “free” sign on them. (Thanks, neighbors!) Armed with all of that, I arrived at Kathy’s house and found she had a ton of speedwell, as well as a gorgeously landscaped yard – all of which was her doing. Kathy and her husband are original owners in the neighborhood, and she had transformed her backyard into a total oasis – I was so impressed! When my mom comes to visit in a few weeks, I’m going to drop Kathy a line and see if I can bring my mom by to see… it was so beautiful.

Carpet_of_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell

Isn’t this carpet of blue speedwell just fabulous??? I hope it roots just as thick and lush in my yard.

The speedwell ended up coming up very easily, and I was able to get an inch of dirt / the roots below as it came up in sheets, almost like carpeting. I was really pleasantly surprised how easy it was! Within 40 minutes, I had every bin so full that I had to use Kathy’s wheelbarrow to get them out to my car. Meanwhile, I got to chatting with Kathy about all sorts of garden topics. I’m definitely looking forward to calling her again for more tips and tricks. (Or maybe more plants, since she generously offered me several other species that she thought might do well in my yard. My neighbors are truly the best!!)

The problem came when I got home to replant. The soil needed to be loosened up a bit before I laid the carpets of speedwell on top, but that was no easy task. After trying to get after it with a trowel for over an hour, I only succeeded in loosening up three of the thirteen steps. This was going to be a long process, and my blistered hands were not having it! I headed inside for some Google research on tilling methods, and after a call to confer with my mom, I gave up on the tilling and just headed to Home Depot for a bunch of top soil to throw down instead… I hoped that would suffice.

Topsoil_in_Car

These were on a big sale at Lowes, so I only paid $20 for all this dirt – not bad!

I threw down a layer of the soil, laid out the carpets of speedwell, watered like crazy, and hoped for the best. Fortunately, I was working from home Monday and Tuesday, and the forecast was pretty rainy Wednesday and Thursday, so that helped! We’ll see how it looks this Saturday, after a week in the ground.

Transplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_StairsTransplanted_Creeping_Blue_Speedwell_To_Stairs

Here’s how it looked right after I put the speedwell in. I know it’s still a bit of a disaster zone, but I think this is going to be gorgeous if it takes root and spreads! (And if I can get rid of all the leftover grass / weeds.)

By the time I finished gardening, it was nearly sundown, and I headed inside for a quiet Saturday night to myself. Cooking and a book and an early bedtime, yes! How early you ask? Well, my only bummer of the night was that it stays light out so late now… so it’s possible I went to bed pretty much as soon as it got dark. (And sometimes I’ve been known to go to bed before that. Don’t judge!)

I didn’t set an alarm on Sunday, and hoped to sleep as late as possible. Unfortunately, I ended up waking up at 6am… oops! But I was feeling pretty energetic, so I decided to go for a hike of Rattlesnake Gulch – my first hike of the “summer”. Okay, fine, it’s not summer yet, but it felt like it – temps were already in the high 60s at 6am, and were supposed to get up to the mid 80s by afternoon. Colorado is definitely feeling like Florida, minus the humidity!

I quickly pulled on some shorts and a long-sleeved tech tee (I find wearing a lightweight long-sleeve is easier than slathering myself in sunscreen), and dug my Osprey hydration vest out of the closet. Even before I got to the trailhead, I was pretty excited – I’ve been skiing so much all winter that I forgot how great it is to wake up and be able to hit the mountains in just 10 minutes for hiking / trail running!

The first part of the Rattlesnake Gulch hike was steep uphill, but as soon as the trail leveled out, I picked it up to a run. I alternated running and hiking all the way to the continental divide overlook at the top. It was so quiet and peaceful – there was hardly anyone yet on the trails, and I was loving it! This route has a lot of beautiful views, and I was so happy to be out enjoying them… and making it to the top pretty quickly too (just under an hour).

Bench_Atop_Continental_Divide_Overlook

There are two benches at the top, which makes it the perfect spot to rest and have breakfast before heading back down. I was wishing I had a hot cup of tea to sip, though. Anyone know if they make pouches (like Camelbaks) that keep drinks hot? I’d rather have a pouch that squishes down than a hard sided bottle, but maybe I’m overthinking it.

There were a few hikers at the top when I got there, but they left within a few minutes, and then I had the stunning vista all to myself. However, on the trail up, I had passed another hiker, and after I hung out at the top for a little while, she ended up catching up to me. She asked me to take a photo for her, and then reciprocated the favor, and we ended up exchanging phone numbers to hopefully hike together sometime. She just moved to town (she’s a traveling nurse), and was looking for hiking buddies. I’m in! And I love how serendipitously we connected… Colorado is the friendliest, best place ever 🙂

Top_of_Continental_Divide_Overlook

You can see Boulder reservoir way off in the distance… Eldorado Canyon is so beautiful!

I said goodbye and jogged down the trail, this time enjoying music instead of podcasts. Nice reward for hiking up! I ended up getting down in under 30 minutes, which means that I could do this entire route in just an hour and half… so totally possible to do it on a weekday before work. Noted! The trail had enough flat parts and small uphills (even on the descent) that I felt like I was still getting a good workout in, though it was definitely easier than the way up.

When I got back to my car, I started driving to my house, but was on such a runner’s high from my fun on Rattlesnake Gulch that I decided I wasn’t done yet. When I passed the Flatirons Vista trailhead that I had run the day before, I turned into it instead of heading for home. I realized that since Rattlesnake Gulch was 6.4 miles out and back, doing the 3.6 mile Flatirons Vista loop would put me at exactly 10 miles of trails for the day. Awesome! I haven’t run more than 6 miles in months, but I was feeling great and decided to go for it. I’m back in the trail running game!!! Now it’s truly summer 🙂

But what else comes along with summer? Wedding season! And so at noon I packed up my stuff and drove up to Estes Park to witness two of my good friends finally get married. Elizabeth was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Colorado, and we commiserated over the online dating scene here. Well, Match.com led her to meet Jay several years ago, and it was so fun to get to see them go through dating to proposal to engagement to now, a gorgeous wedding overlooking the mountains.

Elizabeth_and_Jay_Smith_First_Kiss

“You may now kiss the bride.” Our good friend Adam was the officiant and he did an amazing job, capturing so much of Elizabeth and Jay’s personality while still throwing in a few great jokes.

The group of friends in attendance was my original close friend group in Colorado. We used to do absolutely everything together, and while we’ve now all made other friends as well (and Caitlin and Adam moved to Chicago!), it’s still always a fabulous night when we get together.

Laura_Heather_Cindy_Estes_Park_Elizabeths_Wedding

What a backdrop for photos! My friend Cindy and Heather and I couldn’t resist getting some photos in this beautiful spot between the ceremony and the reception.

At the reception, despite my strappy heels, I spent the majority of my time on the dance floor. I think the highlight of the night for me, though, was when Ed Sheeran’s Perfect came on, and all the couples came onto the dance floor for a slow dance. My friend Kelly’s husband had to leave early, so the two of us started slow dancing with each other, and one elderly gentleman gave us quite a surprised look as he thought we were a couple and apparently didn’t approve! By the time the wedding wrapped up, I had definitely burned off the several pieces of wedding cake I tried – my Fitbit said that I logged over 36,000 steps on Sunday! Wow.

All in all, this was the perfect “summer” weekend… even if I know it’s not quite summer and there is sure to be another snowstorm or two before the pools open on Memorial Day. Still, I’ll take it!

Source: http://www.50by25.com/2018/05/weekend-recap-summer-is-almost-here.html

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