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Four State Vacation

It’s taken over a month to finally recap my entire vacation.  I still have a few lingering diner reviews left, but with one phase of life over and the next moving forward, I figured it would be best to wrap finally wrap the trip up.

As I mentioned a month ago, my husband and I had no plans when we went out there.  We booked two plane tickets and a rental car.  We had no hotels booked, no plans of which towns and cities we would see, but figured we would wing it.  We didn’t imagine we would drive to four different states and put over 2600 miles on our car…but we did.

road trip through colorado

So where to begin?

We flew into Denver.

We stayed for a few days in Denver.  We explored the city a bit, and went for a few gorgeous runs.  We also got to see my good friend Kevin and his wife which I haen’t seen in a while.  

While in Denver, we drove up and went hiking at Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  We went to a few diners including Sams 3 which was on the Food Network as well as the brand new Snooze Cafe.

Next, we headed out West towards Utah.  My good friend Janae had said there were a fun 5k/13.1 and we thought…why not.  It’s only about 400 miles, right?  Plus, we would see what we would see.

Earlier in the year one of my closest friends, Angela, moved to Colorado (from South Jersey). The route to Utah went right through her town which we had been planning to do anyway.  We stayed the night at Angela and her husband’s house, went for a gorgeous run, and of course at her local diner: The New Castle Diner.

Reunited with Angela and it feels so good. 25 degree running…well not so much

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Then we continued towards Utah.  It was a scenic and beautiful drive.  Most of the time we didn’t have cell service which was actually nice.  No internet, blogging, or Facebooking.  Just the road and rocks on either side.

We got into Provo late that night, found a nice hotel near the race.  Since there was a half marathon, packet pickup was the night before at the mall.  We overheard some locals talking about the “lazy people” doing the 5k…YAY for being lazy.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

The race itself was tough.  NJ is at sea level, Utah is 4000-5000 above (I can’t remember).  There was also a massive hill at the end of the race, and I finished in 19:40 dry heaving the whole way.  You can read more about the Haunted Half 5k here.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

No, seriously it was painful

Janae, who just had her baby, finished and placed in her age group.  It was great to hang out, and the morning was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.   Another state I’ve raced in, not that I’m even sure how many that is.

After the race in Utah, we drove South.  We stayed the night, woke up the next morning and explored both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Hiking in Zion National Park

Both were beautiful, and we could have spent days, weeks, and probably months in either.  I hope one day to get back and spend more time and each.  Both have half and full marathons too, which would be fun to run if we trained appropriately (IE: at elevation).  Judging from the 5k, it might be awhile. We went to Meme’s cafe for lunch in Zion, which was an “interesting” experience.

Made it to Bryce Canyon for incredible views of the Hoodoos and Rainbow point.

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After that, we stayed overnight and headed down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We were only a few hours away, and I’ve always wanted to see it.  A few hours away is a lot closer than NJ, so we decided to just drive down there.  It was absolutely breathtaking!

We've always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon…so we did.

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After the Grand Canyon, we progressed east towards Colorado.  We wanted to make a stop at the Four Corners: where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.  It’s a bucket list item, just to say you did.  It wasn’t too crowded when we got there.  You can stand in all Four Corners or lay there…

For the next couple of days, we just enjoyed the drive, view, and hanging out.  We saw a lot of cute towns.  We drove through Uncompahgre National Forest and over a terrifying mountain pass in which it was snowing.  We decided to stop and take a photo at the top.  It was one of the most incredible views of the trip.

For Halloween, I traveled to 11,000 feet and dressed up like someone who likes winter.

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Afterwards, we headed to Tim’s relative’s house in Montrose, Colorado.  It was nice to see family, and they took us for a 10+ mile four wheeling expedition up a mountain.  I’ve never been four wheeling before, so it was a brand new but so much fun experience.  The mountain in the background is actually the mountain we drove over and took the photo (above).

I didn't wake up thinking I would take my first ATV ride this morning, but here we are.

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After an enjoyable visit in Montrose, we headed back towards Denver.  We stopped in Colorado Springs for a couple of days.  Initially, we wanted to go walk around the Air Force Academy, but there were essential meetings, and we weren’t allowed on.  We should have started our trip that way!  We decided to hike the Seven Bridges Trail (yes, you cross 7 bridges) as well as the Grey Back Peak Trail.

We also stopped (of course) at the King Chef Diner which was featured on the Food Network.  If you’ve never been, you have to go.  It is definitely one of my favorite diners that I’ve been too, including in NJ!   There are two locations but we chose the 13 seat, small purple castle.

They are most known for their Burritos.  Even with running and hiking, I left full.

King Chef Diner Colorado Springs

Finally, we wrapped our way back to Denver, and it was time to go.  At the airport, I ended up getting food poisoning which I’m still dealing with but that is a blog post for another day.

In summary:

12 Days
4 states
Over 100 miles run
Highest elevation 11000
Lowest elevation 3200
Temperatures between 28-80 degrees
And 2600 miles driven (on the dot)

I had one of the best trips of my life, and it was nice to spend time with my husband before he deployed.  One day we want to do something similar again, but going North to Montana and that way.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been on a road trip?

What is your favorite vacation?

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Brooks Cascadia 12 Shoe Review

When going out west on Vacation, I knew I needed a trail shoe.  My husband and I have hiked several times on the east coast, but many people indicated how rocky and rigorous trails could be out west.  Thinking out loud, there have probably been times I could have used a trail shoe while hiking out east too.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

The Cascadia seemed like a good option.  I’ve had success with many Brooks Running shoes including both the Ghost 10 and Glycerin 15.  Instead of getting a hiking boot, I opted for the gortex (weatherproof) Brooks Cascadia.

Brooks Cascadia Fit:

The Gortex version makes the shoe stiffer and less breathable but that is precisely what I was looking for.  I wanted a shoe that would protect me from harsher elements.  That being said, it still fits appropriately.  In my running shoes, I’ve worn between 10-11 wide.  I purchased a pair of 10.5 shoes and have been fine.  The upper is constructed from a double mesh material that I found highly flexible, breathable, and provided a durable layer of protection.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

Brooks Cascadia Ride:

Personally, I’ve used these more for climbing and hiking versus running on trails.  I’ve used them a couple of times to run, but for the most part, they have been great hiking shoes.

There is a lot of cushion for a trail shoe.  My biggest fear was getting a trail shoe that was firm or rigid.  Since we have done 10+ miles of hiking before, my feet would not be happy with that.  The cushion of the Cascadia is soft like the Ghost but hard enough to grip the ground appropriately.

It doesn’t have the grooves of a rigorous hiking boot, but did have enough for the hikes I was doing.

The Gortex version allowed me to cross several streams without too much of an issue with my feet getting wet.  Something that was ideal.

Final Thoughts:

I like the Brooks Cascadia 12, and I’m so glad I decided to purchase it.  Since purchasing, I’ve done a variety of trails including Zion National Park, Colorado Springs, and even hiking in New Jersey.  It definitely makes a difference when hiking.  I’m glad I finally took the plunge and purchased a pair.

Questions for you:

Do you have a separate pair of trail shoes?

Have you ever used a Gortex or weatherproof product?

Hiking Grey Back Peak Trail

The final hiking post on vacation was also in Colorado Springs.  The Grey Back Peak Trail is about 3 miles and follows a ridge up to a summit.  It’s a fairly easy and quiet trail, and we didn’t see a single person or horse out there (apparently, you can ride your horse).

It starts here on a somewhat single track trail.  You don’t climb much but just follow the straightforward trail for about 1.5-1.7 miles.

Grey Back Peak Trail

There are plenty of rocks to stand and take photos on, if that is your sort of thing. It’s one of the most scenic hikes we have done thus far because you have a view almost 100% of the time.

Grey Back Peak Trail The final hiking post of vacation was also in Colorado Springs. The Grey Back Peak Trail is about a 3 miles and follows a ridge up to a summit. It’s a fairly easy and quiet trail, and we didn’t see a single person or horse out there (apparently, you can ride your horse there).
Once we made it to the end, we were rewarded with a great view overlooking Colorado Springs. We saw several military planes flying too and from the bases. I joked, we can never truly get away from planes. 😉
Grey Back Peak Trail
On the way back down, I wanted to climb up one of the rocks. Most people know by now how clumsy I am, so it was better thought than done. With a running start, boost from my husband, and several attempts I made it up. It makes me look more bad@$$ than I actually am.

In all, it was a great short hike. We were out for about two hours. If you are looking for something relaxing with a great view, I highly recommend the Grey Trail in Colorado Springs.  It was a short but quiet hike.  With a view the entire time, it was one of my favorites!

Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon
Hiking 7 Bridges (Colorado Springs)

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)
Snooze (Denver)

Questions for You:
Do you have a favorite trail?
Have you ever been horseback riding?

Snooze (Colorado)

While in Denver, we tried to make our rounds to a couple diners.  I’m not 100% sure Snooze is considered a diner.  It more or less falls into the gray area.  Anyway, Snooze was right near our hotel and my good friend, Kevin, said it was good so we decided to give it a try.

We arrived at Snooze in Westminster on a weekday, and it was busy but not chaotic.  They quickly sat us in one of the modern booths.

Atmosphere: A
Snooze has several locations, and the one at Westminster is the newest. The inside has a full-length bar, is very open, and plenty of booths and tables.

Snooze Denver colorado

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot with plenty of whipped cream.  It was good.  I appreciated how large the coffee mugs were too.

Food: B
The menu at the Snooze is unique and fun.  They have several breakfast and lunch options including pancakes, omelets, and small salads.  I ordered the B.E.A.T Sandwich which came with bacon, fried egg, arugula and sliced tomato served with bacon-tomato aioli on a toasted ciabatta roll.

Snooze Denver colorado sandwiches

I liked the food and the ciabatta roll was great, however, the portion size was small.  I could have used a little more food.

Service: A
Even though it was busy, our waitress was kind and attentive.  She refilled everything quickly and our food came out fast as well.  I have no complaints.

Cost: $$$
For my sandwich and coffee, the cost was $12, which I did find more pricy for the amount of food.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I liked Snooze and if I’m in the Denver/Colorado area I would go back.  I might end up ordering two entrees though.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Service: A
Cost: $12-$20
Overall: A

Closeby diners I’ve Been:
Sams 3 (Denver)
New Castle Diner (New Castle, Co)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)

See all Diner Reviews Here.

Question for you: What is your favorite breakfast?

 

Hiking 7 Bridges (Colorado Springs)

To answer the obvious question:  Do you hike over 7 Bridges?

The answer is yes!

My husband and I were looking for an easy going trail in Colorado Springs a few days before we left.  We had done a shorter run in the morning and just wanted something active.

The 7 Bridges seemed like a fun and unique trail.  The path takes you over 7 bridges and stream crossings.  Each bridge looks relatively similar but it’s fun to conquer each one and have “something” to look forward too.

You begin by walking on an easy dirt railroad bed. After about .7 miles, you reach the bend on the road which begins the 7 Bridges trail. It’s about 1.7 miles one way.

I thought it would be fun to take photos at the Seven Bridges but for some reason, I accidentally deleted bridge number 6.  Rest assured, it does exist.

So here we go up the Seven Bridges:

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 1

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 2

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Three

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Four

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Waving at 5

Insert 6 here, which for some reason I deleted from my phone.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

So excited for bridge 7, that I took a nap while standing

The trail itself is simple and easy and there were plenty of younger kids, as well as a few dogs.  At the 7th Bridge, it just abruptly stops.  I do think there could be a sign that says, end or something.

After we made it 1.7 miles, we noticed a person running with their dog along another trail so we decided to explore.  So we decided to keep going at the top.  Ultimately it led us out towards Jones Park and to some of the most incredible views.

We actually walked on the side of a mountain.  I wanted to show how good I was at hiking, but ultimately nearly fell…so there is that.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

7 bridges hike colorado springs

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Almost to Jones Park

If you are ever in Colorado Springs and looking for a fun hike, I highly recommend the Seven Bridges!

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)

Question for you: What is your favorite hike or area to hike?

 

Visiting the Grand Canyon

After visiting Utah, my husband and I drove back towards Colorado. One thing we wanted to do was see the Grand Canyon. While it was a little bit out of our way, being so close it was hard to say no.   Where we stayed in Utah, it made the most sense to go to the North Rim.  I’ve always wanted to go the Grand Canyon, I mean who doesn’t?

The first and possibly most crucial stop we made, was when we saw the wild Buffalo.  I have always wanted to see them, and it was cool to see them in person.  No, I had no intentions of getting any closer than that, as who knows with wild creatures.

grand canyon north rim

After driving about 20 miles into the park, we came up to the lodging area and the actual canyon.  We had been warned the lodging was not open but that was fine by us because it was much quieter at the North Rim versus the South.  In fact, there were maybe about 20 people there.

grand canyon north rim

It was honestly breathtaking to just look out and see nothing but the canyon for miles.  It was also terrifying to look down and know you were over a mile high.

grand canyon north rim

The daredevil and clumsy person in me, said that was far enough.

grand canyon north rim

grand canyon north rim

grand canyon north rim

My husband was a little bit more adventurous.

grand canyon north rim

In total, we spent about 2 hours just walking around.  Like with Zion and the Grand Canyon, we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but we also wanted to do other things too.  It is definitely somewhere we could (and eventually plan too) spend more time at.grand canyon north rim

After the Grand Canyon, we took to the road for the day and drove over to the Four Corners Monument.  It’s where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico all meet.  It’s definitely a bucket list item.

Like many monuments, you stand in line for a chance to take a photo there.  Or look at it, whatever you want to do.  I decided to lay there.  Keep in mind it is a $5 fee that goes towards the Navajo Nation, which isn’t included with Park passes.

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon or Four Corners?
What is your favorite monument you’ve been too?

 

King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)

While driving through Colorado Springs, I knew there was one diner I wanted to go too: The King Chef Diner.  It had been on the Food Network before!

Atmosphere: A
It’s a small, purple, castle located on the main road.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you’ll wonder what you are driving by.  That being said, it’s one of the best atmospheres out there!

King Chef Diner Colorado Springs Outside

The inside sits 13, and everyone must sit at the bar.  You can watch the chef in the back or talk to the waitress.  Everyone speaks to everyone, and you immediately meet new friends.  It’s clear that it’s a local favorite.

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh, with plenty of whipped cream.  I have no complaints.

Service: A
For the entire diner, there is one waitress and one cook.  Which makes sense because it’s so small!  Our waitress was extremely friendly, knew almost everyone, and our food came out quickly.

Food: A
The King Chef diner is open for breakfast and lunch (not dinner), and you can order anything at anytime.  The King Chef diner has unique options such as a burrito that appeared on the Food Network.  Since the burrito was on the Food Network, I knew immediately what I needed to order. If you are looking for something healthy, you probably won’t find it there.

The portions are huge. The burrito had a flour tortilla stuffed with: two scrambled eggs, sausage, grilled onions, hash browns & shredded cheese. I choose to top mine with their signature green chili!  It was spicy (which I like!).  It was one of the best burritos I have ever had.  I had watched the Food Network episode so I knew to come hungry.  My husband and I had also run earlier and I even I struggled to finish the burrito.

King Chef Diner Colorado Springs

Cost: $
For the coffee and burrito, the cost was $13.  Most people would get two meals out ofit.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:

I enjoyed the King Chef Diner, and I would go back anytime I’m in Colorado Springs.  It’s definitely a unique experience!

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $6-12
Overall: A

Other Diners I went on the Trip:

Sams 3 (Denver)

New Castle Diner (New Castle, Co)

Questions for you:
What is the smallest restaurant you’ve been too?
Have you ever been to a restaurant on the Food Network?

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