Rattlesnake Canyon trek

It was a 102 degree scorcher in late July but I was determined to conquer this 9 mi very remote trek. With 35+ arches gracing this path, the eye candy was amazing!

I knew getting to the start of this remote trek was going to be tough and I did end up getting lost in my first & second attempts, but FINALLY found the dirt path turnoff after a beautiful 10 mile drive of the Colorado National Monument rim road (a must do if you are in western Colorado).

It was slow going in my rented small SUV for 15 miles, as the potholes were ginormous. The trail map cautions you to go as far as you feel comfortable, so it was inevitable I had to hoof it about 2.5 miles from the actual trailhead. No problem since it was a steady downhill grade, but I tried to block out the fact I would have to climb this beast upon my return. More on that later.

I was ecstatic to find the trail marker and beelined to the right to begin the loop down the steep cliff side perch. It was a nice, meandering trek around the back side of the canyon and not a soul in sight. Fortunately, most was semi-shaded and I soaked it in.

As soon as you reached the curve, the arches started popping around every turn and it was mesmerizing…. all different shapes and sizes!

The crown jewel was waiting for me just prior to the hike back out at Cedar Tree Arch. The trail dead ends here and the only way out of the canyon is to head straight up it’s belly. At first glance, it seems very doable but as you start your 80 degree ascent, the jitters definitely kick in as the slippery red rock is hard to grip and there are no ropes to assist. Omg. What did I get myself into?! And I’ve scaled quite a few sketchy cliffs, but this one had me downright terrified.

But there was absolutely NO WAY I was returning the way I had dropped in as I was running low on water, so I slowly gained traction and CONQUERED this beast!

I thought the hardest physical & mental challenge had already been eclipsed, but I still had to scale the cliff to get out of the bowl & then make it back out to the car another 3 miles in the 110 degree heat without any shade. I literally had to take 2 sit down breaks under the smallest branches you can imagine just to get some reprieve. Secretly I was hoping 1 of the 3 trucks, that had made it further down the gnarly path than I, would come plowing up & feel sorry for me. Needless to say….. that didn’t happen & I struggled to get back to my coveted AC.

After 3 days of 30,000 steps each, I was DONE….. but as I headed back to the Salt Lake City airport, my car steered itself to another iconic trek along the Utah border & I somehow mustered up enough energy to squeeze another hike in!

Disney Cruise 2022 🚢

Even though I’m blessed to have already been on 23 Disney Cruises, it’s been over 8 years since my last sailing! Who is over the moon excited?!?

And to be able to twist the arms of some of my favorite people on this planet to hop onboard together (of course I exaggerate because it was an easy sell), it truly is a gift. Now that the 3 day ship leaves port Friday at 4pm and returns Monday by 7am, it’s a no brainer since we don’t have to miss any work.

Post pandemic, everything looks and feels different as the first change comes with COVID testing at the port garage via the comfort of your own car. After 15 mins of patiently waiting & hoping for clearance for our party of seven, we bounce through security quickly and start our maskless journey.

Nothing can replace taking that leap from the bridge onto the ship and hearing your family name come over the loudspeaker. It signals your escape from reality into vaca mode!

First order of business is always the massive lunch buffet (jumbo shrimp) and enjoying the moment on the outside deck during a picture perfect, cloudless May afternoon.

A noticeable change is the omission of the dreaded boat safety drill. Yippee!! A quick walk through of your assigned station and your party is cleared for sail away.

Our ship looked to be only half full, so we enjoyed pools and parties without much of a threat of overexposure to crowds. From fireworks at sea, pirate night, daily drink specials, plentiful self serve ice cream visits, late night big screen movies on the deck under the sea of stars, verandah card games, signature broadway shows, new cruise line apparel, frequent character sightings, spectacular sunsets, karaoke parties and sooooo much more, it was good to be back in Caribbean waters!

Garth Brooks Soundcheck

Unexpected perks are truly blessings.

Volunteering to work guest services for our suites on the biggest concert ever hosted at Camping World Stadium, I really had the mindset to just be ready for anything amongst the 70,000 guests.

I had seen Garth for my 40th birthday and it was over the top amazing (even though I was an emotional wreck after having to announce just hours prior to my very special staff at the DPY that I was leaving to pursue my goal of becoming an ED in Titusville).

So a few days prior to event day, we got the exciting news that he was going to add a sound check performance the night prior AND we had the exclusive opportunity to be there with only 1,000 guests that had won tickets via our local radio station. AYKM?!?

Tessa and I joined the entry line an hour prior to opening, knowing that seats were first come first serve. We beelined for the left side of the stage & low and behold we snagged 2 stand alone seats FRONT ROW.

The next 2 hours was a whirlwind and I’m sure most of it involved me staring at Garth in complete awe at his stage presence. Every song it felt like he was singing only to me and it was an amazing performance. He read homemade signs and serenaded the crowd with some old classics. It was a very intimate and unforgettable experience.

Spoiled?!? 100% 🎯

Glacier hike 🇳🇴

This was the crazy adventure I didn’t know I needed.

After strapping on 3 inch crampons, helmet, harness and grabbing an ice axe, we got secured to our teammates via rope. Who would entrust me with an axe and what did we just get ourselves into?

The daunting 300m vertical ice field ahead made us break a sweat immediately, but we plowed ahead at a painstakingly slow pace, zig zagging the mountain. As we stopped for a crampon issue and a dropped water bottle, another team overtook us BUT their rear person had a mental & physical breakdown so we had a front row view of a mountain rescue. After the delay, we finally eclipsed this behemoth and got rewarded with lunch atop.

Then the real badass fun began…..

Our wonderful guide challenged us by taking us down into a crevice. AYKM?!? It was a pivotal moment that we all bonded over. How many people can say they’ve taken a leap of faith over an ice ledge and used an axe to climb back out? It was surreal and so empowering.

With all of us gaining an extra dose of confidence, we were disappointed the adventure was ending and we had to scale another uphill to climb back out of this cauldron of ice.

Only one slip and we all finished unscathed after a crazy, one-of-a-kind adventure.

Fisher Towers hike

I can count on one hand the number of times my body has completely shut down and said “nope, you are not 22 years old anymore”.

This day, I was 90% sure I was going to skip this iconic trek but my adventurous side won over as I passed the exit and I found myself cruising down beautiful Hwy 128 into Red Rock Country. After eclipsing 30k steps each of the last 3 days in all new territory (Western CO), my tank was nearing empty so I just put one foot in front of the other with no other expectations.

Famous last words.

I was blown away by this rugged landscape and somehow got more energized with every corner I passed. It was slow going but it was the most fun I had all weekend. This is a must do trek for any avid hiker.

While the massive spires provide ample shade throughout, the exposed sections are absolutely brutal in the July late afternoons. Half way through the route, a small ladder assists the serious adventurer down an exposed ledge prior to another steep incline. I opted to spend some quiet time at this beautiful vantage point to reflect on the AWESOME weekend I had literally pulled together just 72 hours prior.

Truly a blessing to be an fearless adventurer!

Travel reading pleasure

What’s your favorite reading genre?

I’m a huge fan of thriller/suspense lawyer type books. A complete 360 from my chosen profession and my release. But I really only read for pleasure while on vacation mostly just because of being in the regular work grind.

And nobody knows, but growing up I didn’t enjoy reading and was typically in the slower reading groups. I just couldn’t read between the lines to guess the hidden meanings or theorize on what we think the author was really trying to say. My mind just didn’t work like that.

Since my passion is adventure travel, in the early 2000s, it was tough to justify packing a big paperback book when space was limited on backpacking trips specifically. When my parents bought me a kindle, it was the best and most practical gift I had ever received. And I still have that original device after all these years!

And I have to admit my neurosis that I don’t bend any corners or the spine…..ever! So electronic for me was definitely a win win.

And while everyone thinks that I’m on the go 24/7, I really do make time to totally chill out and get lost in a good book. I look forward to vacations so that I can dive into a release from the every day and have extra help leading into a much coveted deep sleep. 😴 📚

Indiana Dunes NP 🏞

On a whirlwind 23 hour business trip to northern Indiana, I couldn’t resist a small detour to get my hiking fix in.

And it was an extra treat, as Indiana Dunes National Park had not been checked off of my bucket list thus far. It became my 49th of 63 to conquer!

On the 75 min stretch from Chicago to Michigan City, IN, you get to hug the Great Lakes coastline and pass right by the shifting dunes. Being that my yearly America the Beautiful National Park pass had just expired, I made the commitment to continue my nature geek status into 2023.

In the summertime heat of mid-July, I plowed forward first to the 1.1 mile Dunes Succession trail which had a mixture of stairs and sand to get the heart pumping. I quickly remembered I don’t like sand hikes but my kick in’ playlist kept me motivated. And from the shoreline haze, you could even make out in the distance the impressive skyline of downtown Chicago.

Next I tackled the Cowles Bog trail for 3+ miles walking through a diverse landscape of marshes, black oak savannahs and the final steep sand dune leading to sweeping views of Lake Michigan.

I ended the day hoping to summit Mt. Baldy but the climb was closed indefinitely due to erosion, so I opted to enjoy the beach overlook for some quiet time of reflection prior to making the last 5 mile drive to the casino to get down to business.

Boat trippin 📱

Have you ever had a moment of klutziness that you wish you had back?

Well, mine came on a small dock in downtown Orlando amongst 5 coworkers. After a quiet cruise and picnic around the chain of lakes, we returned just prior to sunset and started unloading all our gear. I prepared to exit the vessel from the back deck, but my foot caught the top of the canopy and I plunged headfirst towards the dock pile on. (As a side note, I had survived a brutal personal training session just hours prior, so both my arms and legs felt like jello).

I made the quick decision to catch myself and save my keys from the murky abyss. My chapstick was a goner. And as I dangled between the swaying boat and the dock, my phone dislodged from my hip holster and sank below.

I may have expressed a few choice words before instinctively jumping in to save my iPhone 12 Pro. In that moment I am unsure that all my photos and contacts are saved on the cloud and my mind starts to panic.

Armed with googles that are broken, I forge ahead blindly with a deep breath and desperation. The water at the dock is approximately 7 feet deep and who knows what my hands are scouring over. All I feel are weeds and muck. My first two attempts were hopeless.

Meanwhile my friend runs to my car to grab my snorkel gear (mask), which just happened to be packed due to my FL Keys trip that was to planned the next day. So my third attempt was a wild plea of desperation and MIRACULOUSLY I feel something solid along the lake sea grass wall. I punch through the water line with my prize held high like a superhero, while I scale the dock’s ladder.

The girls test my phone & my home screen glows brightly like it had no idea the drama that had just ensued over the past 7 excruciating minutes. WTH?!?! However, we still race inside to plop it into a bag of rice and pray for the best.

After a few laughs, drying off and a sigh of relief, I realized I have no idea how to get to my friend’s house without my GPS. The goods and bads of technology at our finger tips!

So after 10 hours of rice therapy, my phone is as good as new BUT I got a piece of rice lodged in the charging port….. onto the next problem solving!

Milestone 200 blogs 🎉

It just makes me smile to know how far I’ve come in really embracing the concept of being FEARLESS!

It has been an absolute blast to reminisce about those crazy adventures that have defined my 30s & 40s, but also tap into my deepest aspirations of “what’s next”.

As I look back on 200 blogs, it’s quite humorous to read back at those first attempts trying to tell a story and how much my style has evolved. I hope you have enjoyed getting lost in my grand adventures, as much as I have reveled in remembering all the little details that are layered into my extraordinary journey.

My wish for you is to find your own sense of wonder and purpose along the course of this crazy ride.

Pinch me!!!

March Madness 🏀

March has become one of my fav months of the year due to the onslaught of hoops 24/7. And if Duke makes it through the Sweet Sixteen, I become a maniac.

For almost 15 years, I’ve made the yearly trek to see a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium and join the “crazies” for one of my fav nights of the year. And it never disappoints.

The month of March is a basketball junkie’s dream. And in the office bracket pool, my loyalty always shines through with Duke picked to win it all (regardless of the odds & everyone gunning to take us down a peg).

Since 1991 with the deadly combo of Hurley, Laettner and Hill….. seeing “the shot”, my allegiances have never wavered. Not even once. And four National Championships later, it is even that much more addictive.

My top 5 players to ever adorn the royal blue jersey (in this order): Hurley, Redick, Zion, J. Williams, G. Allen.

As soon as the schedules are announced in late summer, I inevitably spend an evening plugging all the matchups into my calendar and imagining the nets being cut down in April to “One Shining Moment” playing in the background!

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