What's better than being a bridesmaid in your best friend wedding??
Being a bridesmaid in your best friends wedding IN ASPEN...IN SEPTEMBER. :)
|Leaving KC Wednesday afternoon|
Since I was already going to one of the most beautiful places during the most beautiful time of year, I figured I might as well make a vacation out of it and head out a few days early.
Packing for the mountains is tricky. Hot during the day, cold at night. No real plans of what I was going to be doing during the days. All that combined turned in to me checking a bag for the first time in years. I for real hate checking begs. Like, a LOT. But I was forced to do it this time. And it wasn't just any bag. It was a FORTY-SEVEN POUND bag, hahaha! Unreal.... I mean who packs 47 lbs of clothes for four days!? (Apparently I do.) <-- <--
So, yeah, of course I got sick on the flight. All the bouncing around and up an down really did a number on me with my motion sickness crap. I was so sick when I landed in Denver I about had a total melt down before I was convinced to get right back on the same size plane for my next flight to Aspen.
|Getting back on in Denver. Headed to Aspen.|
Thank goodness the next flight was way better. Shorter and better. It was under 30 minutes gate to gate, and for some reason was actually much smoother than KC to Denver.
Or I guess maybe the half bottle of Dramamine I took when I got to Denver kicked in. Whichever. ;)
I had to stand around the baggage claim area and wait for my ridiculously heavy bag...which is about my least favorite thing to do when I land somewhere new/cool. THAT'S why I never check a bag. I'm always way too excited to just get going. Waiting around is just painful.
On the bright side, I got upgraded from the cheapest class of car (economy) to a sweet SUV for my rental car for the weekend!
Took about 10 minutes to get from the airport to my hotel in Aspen: Mountain Chalet.
Kind of an older hotel, but lots of charm. Kind of felt like I was back in Switzerland, which I'm sure it the whole point of the hotel. ;)
My welcome gift to Aspen?
None other than this gorgeous double rainbow shortly after I got there. No big deal. ;)
I ran in to Angie (bride-to-be) in the elevator, and after we caught up for a bit, I decided to get my bearings and walk around Aspen. It was definitely just as small as everyone had said! I hit all of downtown in about 15 minutes.
I hit the grocery store for some healthy food and snacks for the weekend, and then found the cutest little mom 'n pop Italian restaurant for some take-out dinner. I ate back in the room and crashed for the night. I usually go to bed at 8:30 back in Kansas...which was 7:30 in Colorado. So, yeah, let's just say it was a super early first night for me!
I woke up at all hours of the night for some reason and slept awful. I tried to get up early and work out, but since I was winded from walking down the stairs, I thought giving myself a day to get acclimated to the altitude might not be a terrible idea.
Angie text me to meet her for breakfast around 8, and then we went on a little hike above our hotel to do some scavenging for wedding decorations.
We grabbed lots of pine cones and maybe ripped some limbs off a tree. (It was a big tree and I'm sure we didn't harm it!)
Local, authentic wedding decorations for free? Check. :)
Since I have a hard time not being active, I did some googling and decided to hit up the Maroon Bells for a late morning hike.
Took about 20 minutes to get to the spot, and it was such an amazing drive. I pulled over at least 10 times to take pictures of the beauty all around me...
And just when I thought it was already beautiful, THIS was right in front of me:
(not the sign...the pic below the sign!)
|Helllloooo Maroon Bells.|
I mean, come on. How cool is that!? Yes, it's slightly edited. But really not much! It was just perfect timing, perfect lighting, perfect everything.
National Geographic happened to feature a picture on their Instagram feed from the exact same spot on the same day, but they were there earlier in the morning. I'm not going to lie, I think mine is way better. ;) ^^
Moving on... I didn't really realize that lake was going to be right there. I mean, that couldn't count as my hike for the day. So I checked out a map and decided to hike to Crater Lake. I read about the other hikes aruond there, but the description started out with, "For the more adventerous, ..." Done. I didn't even read the rest.
Not far along the trail, I saw a sign posted that said the trail was closed -- for bear activity.
Yeah, of course I kept going...
The trail was just as gorgeous as the weather. Hiked through beautiful trees and came out to a meadow beneath the mountains. Aaahhh the beauty of it all was too much...
But talk about a disappointment when I got to the lake! Once again, I think seeing Lake Tahoe all the time as completely ruined me for any other mountain lake. (Because none will ever compare.) I literally stood there like, for real? Is this it? I hiked 3 miles in for this??
I sat down on a log, ate an apple and drank my water...and headed back. Was definiteyl expecting a little more than that!
Luckily the hike back was equally as gorgeous...which of course required more pictures.
It was still early when I made it back to the car, so I decided to head to the other end of the valley and hit the trail to Hanging Lake.
After a quick stop at Whole Foods in Basalt for lunch, I drove about an hour to Glenwood Springs, hopped on I-70 for a few miles east and followed the signs to the parking lot. The full parking lot, that is. No worries though. I still have my handicap parking pass for a couple more weeks!
It was slightly embarrassing, but I did it. Pulled in the spot, quickly threw the sign up, and then literally ran out of my car and away from it, haha. Hope no one saw the "handicap" girl sprinting towards a hiking trail and thought it was weird... ;)
I don't remember how I found out about this hike - probably google - but it sounded like a short, easy hike to a really cool spot.
Part of that turned out to be true.
It was short(ish), and it did end up at a ridiculously cool spot. but the easy part? Not so much.
The sign at the beginning said to bring adequate water and expect 3-4 hours roundtrip. Whaaaat? I'll take that as a challenge.
The trail started out straight up. I mean straight. up. But of course I wanted to see how fast I could get to the top, so I practically ran it. No stopping for breaks. I was on a mission.
Well, no stopping except to take pictures. I mean, you can't not stop for this:
The trail followed a stream almost the whole way up. It got really steep at the end, but just around the final bend was this little gem high in the mountain tops:
Seriously. Who knew someplace like that even existed!? I was in awe.
(Oh, and it only took me like 45 minutes to get there. Score!)
(Yeah, so I took a few too many pictures. What's new.)
I hung out there for awhile and chugged some water before running (literally) back down. I was in and out of that park in under an hour and a half. (I really wonder sometimes why I have to compete even when it's just against myself...)
Anyways, made the hour and a half(ish) trip back to Aspen, changed clothes, and set out to walk around Aspen some more.
I thought maybe I would do some shopping. I saw a LuLu the day before and wanted to stop by, along with some other cool stores. But it turns out everything closes at like 5pm in Aspen!
So I opted for the t-shirt and souvenir shops instead. Which turned out well since I found my travel tree ornament for this trip!
Back at the hotel, the guys managed to get the K-State vs Auburn Thursday night game on the tv. I tried to watch, but I was really the only one very interested in it. Between the game of pool and the kids screaming at the foosball table, I could only manage the first half.
I met Luke and Angie and most of the groomsmen at The Red Onion, a bar in Aspen, for the second half. Much better watching conditions, but I'm pretty sure I was still the only one really interested in watching.
Oh yea, so as I was walking down to the bar, THIS HAPPENED:
I can't resist sunsets. Especially ones like this! ^^
Too bad the game didn't turn out as awesome as that view in the sky!
(Yeah, K-State lost, but only because the kicker choked...THREE TIMES.)
Friday morning: Woke up to the cutest welcome bag on my door filled with maps and snacks...and some cool decorations that I may have helped find :)
I really couldn't decide what to do this day, but you can't really go wrong with hiking. I read about a few running trails and set out to try the Hunter Creek Trail.
That lasted all of 10 minutes. Turns out my lungs don't really like the work in the mountains, ha. My chest was burning in no time at all, so I decided to forget the workout and just enjoy the view.
Since the run didn't happen, I decided to possibly drive to Vail..or at least up Independence Pass.
I didn't know if I was ever going to make it there. I literally stopped about every 2 minutes for pictures. I almost ran off the road countless times as I was gawking at the views, so I decided pulling over was a better option.
I mean, I still took some while driving, of course. ;)
It was a longer drive than I thought (especially when you factor in the picture stopping time), so the trip to Vail wasn't going to happen.
Once I made it to the top (and took more pictures), I turned it around and headed back to Aspen.
The views/trees/scenery. I can't get over it.
Ran in to Angie back at the hotel and went flower shopping.
Our options were pretty limited. There are only 2 or 3 spots in Aspen to buy flowers, but she found some she liked - for the guys boutonnieres and her bouquet at least...
From there she took me to ACES, where the wedding would be, and showed me around.
Seriously such a cool spot!
Where the guests will sit at the wedding ^^
It was still early, and you know me, I have to squeeze in everything I possibly can, so I did one more hike before the rehearsal dinner: Ute Trail just above Aspen.
The info I could find online about it said it was a 1200 foot climb and, "may provide difficulty to hikers unused to this sort of elevation or climb." Ha, awesome. Just what I want. ;)
It definitely provided me with some difficulty and a few breaks to make sure I was still breathing, but the views from the top were totally worth it!
|Brock: the dog my mom thought was a bear. For real.|
Didn't have much time to chill at the top, because I had to get back and cleaned up for the rehearsal dinner at Justice Snows.
(Always time for more sunset pics though...)
(Happened to walk by my car and noticed this:)
|Ugne and I waiting to be seated|
|Luke and Angie|
The food was so, so good. Like, so good that I may have eaten Travis's salad after I ate mine. And then some other guys soup, too. And that was just the appetizer part. :)
Travis and I goofed around for some selfies, and I realized I could do this with my hair:
Pretty sweet, right? Haha!
(And no, I didn't drink any of that wine. It was just a prop.)
I had to snap one pic with the gorgeous bride before the night ended.
It was another pretty early night. (IE went back to the hotel and straight to bed after dinner.)
The big day is tomorrow!