Year in Review: 2016

Happy New Year!  Even though I already have my first passport stamp of 2017, I want to take one look back at what a fabulous travel year I had in 2016!  Everyone’s talking about how 2016 stunk, but the Cubs won the World Series, guys!

In 2016, I (quietly) celebrated 10 years at my company.  This meant a bonus week of Paid Time Off, along with a generous gift of American Airlines and Hyatt gift cards, all of which helped make this a banner travel year for me!  Thanks, CDW Corporation!

January

January is always a lay-low month for me.  Recovering from short work weeks, holidays and holiday travel, I usually stay close to home, hibernate and try to cut back on eating and spending.  Fun, huh?!

I did set out to put a dent in my resolution of visiting museums, with a trip to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, but as with most resolutions, this one faded away early in the new year.

Also, it was so cold, my dog had to wear a coat! (A very rare occasion)

JAN2016 - frigid below zero temps :(

February

February – more winter, more hibernation.  I was able to catch another night in the chef series at Kendall College.  Other than that, I doubt I left the house!  Can you blame me?!

Chicago River

March

In March, I took my only business trip of the year – a quick overnighter to New York.

At the end of the month, I set off on my first big solo international trip with two weeks in SouthEast Asia.  I started off in HongKong, then a few days in Chiang Mai, on to Bangkok, Siem Reap, Phuket and back to Hong Kong!

Angkor Wat

April

Although the first 10 days of April were spent in SouthEast Asia, I managed one other weekend getaway to Tom’s Lake in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Tom's Lake Cabin - Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan

I also became a godmother to this cutie in April!

Harper Grace Christening

May

May always kicks off with this guy’s birthday.

Leigh and Emmit

At the end of the month, I finally made a trip to Southern Illinois for some hiking.

New tent!

Cache River Natural Area

June

June was uneventful, other than a trip to the Field Museum to see the Terra Cotta warriors exhibit.

July

In July, I returned to the UP to see some new spots I’d been hearing about for years, like the Porcupine Mountains and Pictured Rocks.  It was too hot, so I came home early and made plans to return in the fall!

Porcupine Mountains State Park / Lake of the Clouds

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

August

August was the calm before the storm, travel-wise.  Work-wise, it was insane and I worked most weekends and nights this month.  Not exciting, but necessary!

September

September was the start of two very busy travel months!  First up, I headed to Mexico City for my birthday.

9/12 TuribusCondesa neighborhood

Mexico City

I returned home for two days, then it was a road trip to the UP (again!) for my first attempt at solo backpacking, in Pictured Rocks.

Starting the hike at Grand Sable

TwelveMile Beach Campground

October

The first weekend of October was spent at Mt Princeton Hot Springs in Colorado, allowing me to catch the fall colors that I’m usually too early for.

Cottonwood Pass

Two weeks later, I headed to North Carolina for a family weekend at the beach.

Full moon over Kure Beach

November

November was the best month of all time when the CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!  Seriously!  It wasn’t until after the parade that I finally stopped thinking it was all just a dream.  (For those not in the know, this is a really big deal – the Cubs have been the lovable losers of MLB for 108 years!!!)  Some of my favorite people came into town to celebrate, along with about 5 million other people, making this the 7th largest gathering in human history.

Chicago Cubs World Series Parade

Another big event in November was celebrating my niece’s first birthday!  Isn’t she the cutest?!

Aunt Leigh and Harper Grace

December

December was the usual rush of holiday parties and shopping, Christmas Eve with family followed by a Christmas day flight to Baja Mexico, where I closed out the year!

All told, it was a great  year for travel!

Here are a few of my stats.  I love stats, I’m such a nerd!

  • Flights: 16
  • Hotel/Cabin Nights: 29
  • Tent Nights: 15
  • Vacation Days Taken:  29.5 (wow!)
  • Countries Visited: 4
  • States Visited: 6 (not including my home state)

I’ve got some pretty cool plans in the works for 2017, including 15 days spent hiking the Haute Route in the Swiss Alps!  I predict fewer flights and more tent nights, but we’ll see how it all pans out!  And I might just get to a few more museums after failing at that goal last year 🙂

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Colorado Hot Springs Weekend

What a setting!

You all know how much I love Colorado and try not to let a year pass without at least one visit.  In 2015, when my backpacking trip was cut short by illness, I spent some time exploring new (to me) areas, like Buena Vista.  On my way out to St Elmo ghost town, I had passed by Mt Princeton Hot Springs and knew I had to come back.  As soon as I got home to a computer, I was checking calendars and availability – a year out, the fall weekends were almost booked up!  I was lucky to snag a condo cabin for 3 nights in October.

The cabin area and road leading to the hot springs

I flew into Denver early on a Friday, grabbed a rental car and hit the road.  Buena Vista is about 3 hours from the Denver airport.  Taking the southern route, 285, is much more enjoyable than the craziness of the I-70 corridor.  Technically, Mt Princeton Hot Springs is in Nathrop, about 10 minutes from Buena Vista.  Buena Vista is where you’ll find a grocery store, gas stations and restaurants.

Friday night I was solo, thanks to a long-time friend (who I hadn’t seen in years), who stood me up because she “drank too much.” So I spent some time in the hot springs pool and used the evening to catch up on work – unfortunately, I was still doing two jobs at work, and this trip came at the end of quarter, so I had to lug a laptop along, which I almost never do!

Catching up on work while enjoying al fresco lunch

Saturday morning, I took advantage of the free yoga class in the pool – I’ve never done water yoga before, and it was fantastic!  It was 50 degrees outside, the pool is around 100 degrees…it made for a great start to the day!  Later in the day, my friend Deborah arrived from Denver and we set out for a short hike at Cottonwood Pass.  We couldn’t find the trail-head we were looking for, so ended up just parking at the pass and following the trail there for a bit.  The view was pretty amazing, as we watched a storm roll over the next valley.

Cottonwood Pass - storms rolling in over Gunnison County

Cottonwood Pass

The aspens may have been a bit past peak, but they were still pretty spectacular!  We made several photo stops along the road on the way back to our cabin.

Cottonwood Pass

When we got back to the cabin, my aunt Norie had arrived from Denver.  We spent the evening cooking dinner in the cabin, and enjoying the hot springs.  Before bed, I gave nighttime photography another shot, but I still need to work on it – nothing share-worthy on this trip (at least I was able to stay up past dark – thank you, shorter days!)

Sunday morning, we had a quick breakfast in the cabin and cruised the web for a suitable hike that would still allow the ladies to get back to Denver at a reasonable hour.  We settled on the Poplar Gulch trail near St Elmo ghost town.  We all had our SLR cameras out, so it was a leisurely stroll through the woods as we each snapped a ton of photos of the changing aspens.

Poplar Gulch Trail near St ElmoNorie and I

St Elmo

Norie and I decided to have another soak before she hit the road, so we went to some of the other pools – we first went to the river, where stones are arrayed to form pools of varying temperatures.  This was a cool feature, but I didn’t love sitting in sand and rocks, so we headed back up to some of the other pools.

Sitting in the river after a dayhike

After both Norie and Deborah had gone back to Denver, I was solo again, with a lot of work to catch up on.  I decided to head into Buena Vista for dinner since the wifi at the resort wasn’t great.  Quincy’s Steakhouse had free wifi and 1 menu choice:  steak, haha!  I was able to finish most of my work and enjoy another soak before bedtime.

I had booked the latest flight on Monday, so I had plenty of time to find my way back to Denver.  I first went into Buena Vista to hire a new realtor for my property in nearby Twin Lakes. (For sale here!)  Once that business was taken care of, I decided to drive up and see the property.  I always love driving through Leadville and this time I got spritzed with snow while the nearby peaks got a dusting of white.

Road between Twin Lakes and Leadville

From there, I headed over to Breckenridge, another of my favorite mountain towns.  I had lunch here and spent a few hours strolling main street, mostly window shopping.  Then, it was time to begin the sad drive back to the airport. I get so sad every time I leave Colorado – so why do I keep leaving?   When will I finally just stay?!  Hopefully soon!

No amount of time in Colorado is ever enough, but this was a great little weekend getaway and I truly loved Mt Princeton Hot Springs resort.  The wifi was bad, restaurant service spotty, but you just can’t beat the setting.  I love that it’s not right in town, but close enough to run in for anything.  The resort offers a ton of different lodging options – we had the downstairs half of a cabin (called a condo cabin.) There are also full cabins, Cliffside and Hillside hotel rooms, and rooms in the lodge.  In the summer, there’s a kid-friendly pool with waterslide, and the main pool and spa area have a full roster of free fitness classes.  Our cabin had a queen size bedroom, plus a pullout couch in the living room.  We also had a small kitchen, which was convenient as the on-site restaurant was pricey and not a lot of variety.

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

This is definitely someplace I will return to someday and hopefully sooner rather than later!  So…what other hot springs resorts do I need to check out?

For all of my Colorado pictures, click here!

 

 

 

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