Estes Park Weekend Getaway

Jordan and I love Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Sure, Estes is a tourist town, but it’s a fun little spot, and we try to get up there several times a year. We like to go in the summer, of course… but so does everyone else. For the last few years, we’ve ventured there in November or December, and the town is almost a completely different place. No traffic. No reservations needed at restaurants. No rude tourists. Just the locals and a few straggling tourists like us.


A few weeks ago, we talked about how disappointed we were that we hadn’t made it to Rocky this fall, and how we probably weren’t going to have time. But then we decided that if we wanted to go, we had to make the time. We blocked out this weekend and made a hotel reservation, and last Friday after work, we headed up into the hills. A light snowstorm came along with us, so the drive up the canyon was slow, but we eventually made it up, checked into our hotel (Murphy’s Resort: highly recommend) and grabbed some dinner (Estes Park Brewery: meh) before heading back to our room and crashing for the night.

photo 1 (24)
Dinner at Estes Park Brewery with a festive tree. 
The next morning, we woke up to the sound of wind howling outside the window …  but we also woke up to this:

After checking the forecast for Bear Lake (one of the most popular spots in the park) and seeing that it would have a wind chill of -17, we opted out of our hike/snowshoe plan, as we didn’t have appropriate gear for those temps. I headed out for a quick, cold, and beautiful 4-mile run around Lake Estes, during which I kicked myself several times for leaving my buff neatly folded in the drawer at home.

After a hot shower and a hotel breakfast, we headed to the Holiday Market that just happened to be going on this weekend. We found some treasures (mostly tea… we have a tea addiction), then wandered around town for a while, were we bought some more tea at Dragonleaf Tea, where we also found a sign that made us feel better about the aforementioned addiction:

photo 3 (16)
I bought that ear warmer at the Holiday Market. It’s alpaca. I’m a hipster and sheep’s wool is too cliche for me. 
After we’d wandered a bit, we decided that it was warm enough now to drive up into the park and see if we could find some snow to tromp.

photo 4 (10)

We stopped at Sprague Lake to eat our PBJs (in the car, because brr), then layered up and braved a very short walk around the lake. The wind was whipping, but the lake was beautiful.
photo 2 (22)photo 1 (31)

Even though we were cold, we had fun stomping through the snow. We really felt like wimps when we saw a couple getting wedding pictures taken. Yes, in her wedding dress. BRRR.

We finished our little snow tromp and chose to drive around in the warm car for a bit, stopping several times for photos of the beautiful scenery, even though we knew our iPhones could never do justice to the glory of the mountains.

photo 2 (28)photo 3 (17)photo 4 (14)

After a few more pictures, we cruised back into town to check out the tree-lighting ceremony. The actual lighting wasn’t set to start for over an hour, and the festivities were mostly kid-related, so we went wine tasting instead. Well, Jordan tasted.  I drank wassail because it’s okay to feel festive before Thanksgiving when you’re in the mountains (at least that’s my rule).

After wine tasting, we went back to the hotel to relax and clean up for dinner at the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern. It’s one of our favorite places in Estes: good food, live music, and great atmosphere. We had a lovely little date night and were back to the room, in bed with our books, by nine. Wild party animals, we are.

Sunday morning, I went for another little jaunt around Lake Estes (Sundays are usually my rest day, but I couldn’t resist one last run in one of my favorite places). Then we packed up, had breakfast, and went to Kind Coffee (another great little place) for some coffee-drinking and river-watching before heading back down the canyon toward home.

This was one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time: no stress, no crowds, no to-do lists, just some much-needed quality time together and stunning scenery. Now it’s back to work for all of two days, then back (the other direction) over the mountains for Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite local (to you) getaway spot? 

What are your Thanksgiving plans? My whole family will be together for the first time in… I can’t even remember how long. I cannot wait.

Posts I’ve Loved Lately

I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t had anything blog-worthy happening in my life lately. Luckily for me, we had a snow day today (the best kind of snow day: all my classes are between big assignments, so I’ve got nothing to grade!), so I got the chance to catch up on my backed-up Feedly. Turns out, my Internet friends have been writing lots of great stuff recently. Since there’s nothing new to read on mine, go check out some of these!


Balsamic Sea Salt Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Fit Foodie Finds. These look delicious. Hey Mom… want to try these when I’m home for Thanksgiving?

White Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes from Eat.Lift.Play.Repeat. Are you following Melissa yet? You should be. I actually know her in real life (I work with her mom), and her blog is relatively new, but holy cow, she posts some delicious stuff. I made this chili last weekend and ate it for lunch all week. It’s SO GOOD.


The Ultimate Guide to Running in the Dark by Rock Creek Runner. I’m sure I’ve made it clear before that I don’t generally run in the dark. I run alone 99% of the time, and aloneness + darkness + clumsiness is probably a recipe for disaster. If you live in a place that’s a little safer to run in the dark (most roads here aren’t well-lit, and since there aren’t many runners, drivers are not used to seeing pedestrians out at night), or if you’re preparing for a race that includes night running, this is great advice.

Focus on the Behavior Change, Not the Goal — great advice from Your Trainer Paige.

Fantasizing and Reflecting by Stephanie Howe. I really appreciate when elites post their struggles. It makes them seem more human, and makes the struggles we “normal” people have seem legitimate.

My 3 Rules: Running and Books from Gotta Run Now. Nice little post with good advice.

How to Beat Negative Self-Talk from Runladylike.

Race Recaps

I love reading race recaps! So inspiring.

NYC Marathon Race Recap from Vita Train for Life. She had a rough race and came out with a great perspective.

Rock n Roll Philadelphia from Tina Muir. So fast.

Rim Rock Marathon from Kate Runs Colorado. This race is high on my bucket list. Check out Kate’s pictures to see why.


No More Maybe – Commit! from 50by25. I’ve gotten bad about commenting, but I love pretty much everything Laura posts.

What great posts have you read/written lately?

#HolidaySweat Challenge

Oh, hey. Did you know I still have a blog? I haven’t posted lately, because (1) I’ve been busy and (2) those busy things are not exciting, so every blog entry would say, “Ran. Went to work. Went to meetings. Graded papers.” So much excitement.

Running-wise, I was in recovery mode after my trail race, then in “I do what I want” mode for a couple of weeks. Now, I’m looking at building/maintaining a solid base, then picking a spring goal. I’m not sure I want to commit to a marathon this spring (have you heard that before?) , so I’m looking at running the Horsetooth Half in April, the Run to the Shrine 10k in May, and then training hard all summer for a fall marathon or *gulp* ultra.

In other news, I hate daylight savings time. photo 5 (3)
(Old picture; same view I’ve seen all week). At least I’ve got weekends to get my Vitamin D fix.

See? Not much exciting happening in my world lately.

What is exciting is that I’m doing the #HolidaySweat challenge with Fit Approach and Run to the Finish again this year. It’s a great way to stay accountable for eating well and exercising throughout the holiday craziness that’s about to start, and there’s a chance to win sweet prizes from companies like Prana, Prizes are fun.

Welp, how’s that for a thrilling back-to-blogging post? And I’m not even going to proofread it, because I’m tired. Probably not a good idea, since my students will start their propaganda units soon and will likely find my blog. Do as I say, kids, not as I do.

I will try to become a more active part of the blog world again soon, I promise!

Any other Holiday Sweaters (see what I did there) out there?

What’s new in your world? Have you written any fun/interesting/informative posts that I should check out?