This week’s Travel Theme: Work comes at an absolutely perfect time for me. I am finally back home for a full week after three straight weeks of traveling to Phoenix Monday through Friday for training for my new career. I’m clearly no stranger to frequent travel, but three straight weeks of air travel and hotel stays has definitely been a first for me. And naturally, traveling for business makes the whole thing quite a bit less fun than if I’d been on three straight weeks of vacation. All this back and forth has brought out a new side of me: the frequent business traveler. And so I bring you, my confessions…
Confession #1: Air travel trips me out.
I’ve always been pretty comfortable on an airplane and wouldn’t consider myself a nervous flier. However, the abundance of time I’ve spent aboard United Airlines over the past three weeks has given me plenty of time to think about the logistics of flying. Lately, this has been coming about an hour into my flight, when I look out the window and the thought suddenly occurs to me: “Holy crap. There are over 100 of us sitting inside a piece of metal tens of thousands of feet above the ground. How crazy is this? Whoever figured this whole air travel thing out was really smart. I hope the people who built this airplane were really smart too. It would really suck to fall out of the sky…”
This is usually the point when I bury my nose in a book to cut off these thoughts. I’m finding it really strange that after so many years of flying, these sorts of things are just now popping into my head!
Confession #2: Checked baggage actually kind of rocks.
For years (pretty much ever since they started charging checked bag fees), I’ve prided myself on being a carry-on-only traveler. I’ve never found the $25+ fee worth it, and there’s always the potential of lost baggage if it’s not right with you. But on these most recent trips, the necessity for professional clothes, workout clothes and casual gear has prompted me to pack a larger checked bag. And if we’re being totally honest here, the fact that my company reimburses me for the fee tips the scales.
And you know what? I’ve loved it. It’s so much easier to pack when I can throw in extra pairs of shoes, a few wardrobe alternatives, a light jacket that I probably won’t need but just might, etc. And during a layover (especially a layover that consists of sprinting from gate to gate after a delayed flight, of which I’ve had two), it’s marvelously freeing to breeze through the airport without lugging a wheeling bag. Speaking of that…
Confession #3: I totally judge the people who stand still on the airport’s moving walkways.
How lazy are you?
Confession #4: Sometimes layovers can be fun.
This could be a sign that I’ve been in the throes of too much work and not enough play, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed a few of my recent airport layovers. Part of the fun is that I’m in an airport with only limited options to use my time. It’s tough to be really productive, so I might as well eat something yummy and read a book. Plus, airport dining (at least in Denver) has improved quite a bit recently.
That’s right, I passed my last layover at DIA in the company of a wine flight at Cru. And some Lamb Lollipops.
Confession #5: Sometimes, once I get home, all I want to do is sit on the couch.
If you’ve been reading P&P for very long, you know that I’m a fairly active person. Until I started my back-and-forth business trips to Phoenix, I hadn’t missed a Saturday on the ski slopes all season. But lately, I get home from my travels around 11:00 on Friday nights, and I’m thrilled if I have the energy to meet friends for lunch on Saturday afternoon. Skiing isn’t even on the menu. This is:
But don’t worry too much – by Sunday I’m usually back to this:
Were you expecting juicier confessions? I do have a couple more weeks left of business travel, so I’ll do my best. What are your travel confessions?
I get such a kick out of putting together these Travel Theme posts dreamed up by Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack. Mostly because it’s a great excuse to skim through my iPhoto library looking for photos that correspond with the theme. It tends to turn into a leisurely trip down memory lane. Plus, I always start out thinking something like, “I don’t even know if I have any travel photos with yellow in them,” and end up with too many photos to choose from.
The most obvious photos in my arsenal for this particular theme were taken during autumn, when golden aspen trees create Colorado’s predominant fall foliage.
Fall is by far my favorite time to hike for this very reason.
Alongside the millions of hiking shots in my library, I love this snap of the golden trees at my uncle’s ranch.
And there’s one evening spent wandering around a Denver park that I remember only in shades of yellow and gold.
The other shades of yellow I’ve found in nature have been in the form of wildflowers. Both on a fabulous hike close to home…
And on a mind-blowingly-beautiful walk along the beach in Carmel, California.
I’ve also created plenty of gorgeous urban memories tinged by yellow. Like the gorgeous Four Seasons Istanbul where I was lucky enough to stay last year…
And Paris illuminated in yellow. In Las Vegas.
And because if I could, I’d end every post with a whimsical photo of a ferris wheel:
So tell me, which photo is your favorite?
Hi guys, I’ve missed you! Before I dive into a post about my indulgent digs in Telluride a few weekends back, I feel like I owe you an explanation for the waning frequency of the posts here on Peaks and Passports. I’m excited to have just started training to become an agent with American Family Insurance (I know, every travel blogger secretly longs to become an insurance agent!). It’s a great opportunity for me, and I’m already working longer hours than I have in a long time. I’m definitely not going to abandon my love of travel or writing about it here, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be blogging less frequently. I hope you’ll stick with me as I work to balance blogging with my new career!
Anyway, I was lucky enough to stay in one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever visited during my recent trip to Telluride. The Peaks Resort and Spa had it all – gorgeous amenities, beautiful guest rooms and location, location, location! I know I showed you in a previous post, but I feel obligated to once again share the view that I woke up to at The Peaks.
Once I got out of bed and stepped out on the balcony, it got even better.
The Peaks is located in Mountain Village, which is up and over the ski mountain from the town of Telluride. It’s a somewhat newly developed area that’s home to luxury hotels, ridiculous homes and a base village with shops, restaurants and lift access. Our hotel was located pretty much on top of Mountain Village at an elevation of about 9,500 feet. That factor didn’t hurt the views one bit.
I totally neglected to take photos of the hotel room before our stuff was all over the place, but it was spacious and gorgeous. It was one of the larger hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, with a nice-sized bathroom, entryway with lots of room to hang wet ski gear, king-sized bed, fireplace and sitting area. The finishes were top of the line and the decor was mountain modern, my favorite. While I failed on the room photo front, I did capture some snaps of the resort’s common areas, which really made the place in my opinion.
We had cocktails on a couple of occasions in this beautiful bar and restaurant.
Want a better idea of the views from the bar? Ok.
In warmer months, the patio adjoining the restaurant would definitely be the spot for a drink. Despite the chilly evening temperatures, we spent some time out there taking in the sunset. You can’t really tell in the photo below, but the pink alpenglow off the peaks behind us was gorgeous.
The patio looked almost directly west, making it the ideal spot for enjoying the sunset. I almost let it pass me by before whipping out the camera.
So, what’s the daytime view like from that deck? Bam.
If it had been just slightly warmer, I would have loved staring at that view from a comfy spot on one of these couches.
Just below those couches, you could find the ski-in/ski-out access that we so loved on our first day at The Peaks.
Skiing isn’t your thing? How does the spa sound? The resort is known for having a phenomenal spa, a fact that many of the people in my group vouched for after having excellent massages. (In fact, if you are heading to Telluride before the end of the ski season, this TravelZoo offer gets you a massage at The Peaks and all-day access to their spa facilities for $99. A bunch of us took advantage of it!) I didn’t get a massage, but I did take full advantage of the spa facilities that are open to all hotel guests.
The spa area has many cozy spots like this one to simply relax in addition to fabulous locker rooms, indoor jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas and “meditation areas.” Not wanting to be a creeper, I refrained from photographing those areas. Although I didn’t use it (I preferred getting my workout on the ski slopes and the hiking trails), I checked out the gym area. It was large – especially for a hotel – and really well-equipped. Along with this weight room, there was a spin studio, a yoga studio with a gorgeous mountain view and plenty of cardio equipment.
The area where I spent most of my time was the outdoor pool and hot tub.
The pool was heated warmly enough to comfortably swim on a January day, but I still preferred the hot tub.
I worked on a little bit of a tan while relaxing my muscles and paging through an issue of Ski Magazine and watching skiers go by at a distance, all while surrounded by the jagged peaks of the San Juan mountains. If that’s not a life of luxury, I’m not sure what is.
Un-pictured additional amenities at The Peaks include: a pool table and game room (with games like Pac-Man, Pinball and a motorcycle racing game – it’s not just for kids); a coffee shop serving locally-roasted espresso drinks, coffee and light breakfast; a spacious lobby with lots of cozy seating; a ski rental shop and ski valet. And I’m sure there’s more that I didn’t even discover over the course of the weekend.
So, what’s the nicest hotel you’ve stayed in recently?
Day two of my weekend in Telluride began the way most wonderful vacation days should start… by waking up to a great view:
And then heading to a fabulous brunch. Our hotel, The Peaks, was located on the Mountain Village side of Telluride. This area is up and over the ski mountain from Telluride proper, and appears to be where the newer luxury hotels and uber-ridiculous homes have been built. To add convenience to luxury, all you have to do is hop on the free gondola to get down to the adorable town of Telluride. In my opinion, riding a gondola to brunch is highly superior to driving.
After taking in the gorgeous views on our ride down, we arrived in the equally-picturesque town.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I absolutely love Telluride. Its quaint downtown feels authentically old-west (well, modernized swanky old-west), and it sits in a narrow valley surrounded by jagged peaks. To me, it looks like the quintessential Colorado ski town. After wandering around a bit, we headed to There, a funky bar and small plates restaurant that we’d heard served a great brunch. It did not disappoint.
My House Rancheros was one of the best breakfast dishes I’ve had in ages, and Stan was similarly impressed by his Lamb Chorizo and Eggs.
The flavors in these two dishes were bold and delicious. And unable to resist finishing with something sweet, Stan ordered Trailer Toast, their French toast made from Wonder Bread.
Simply good food with a fun presentation and tongue-in-cheek name? Worked for us!
After brunch, we rode the gondola back to the hotel and I immediately got ready to take a hike. It was a warm-ish, sunny winter day and I couldn’t wait to spend some time outside. Add that to the fact that a friend had told me his favorite running trail in the world originated just above our hotel, and my plan was made.
I’m not one for running uphill in the snow, but I found the Ridge Trail just as lovely for hiking as I hear it is for running. Starting around 10,000 feet, you’d have to have some serious lung power to speed up this trail!
Following a fresh snowfall, you would probably want snowshoes on this trail. But on this particular day it was packed down nicely and I was just fine clomping along in my Sorels. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the bare aspens looked incredible against the vibrant blue backdrop.
The Ridge trail clings to the edge of a mountain, just outside the ski area boundaries. It provides lovely views off one side toward Telluride and the peaks surrounding town.
And off the other side toward the ski area and Wilson Peak in the distance.
It was easy for me to understand why this is my friend’s favorite trail.
At one point, the trail intersects a small open meadow. If you hike this trail when there is a lot of snow on the ground, do me a favor and do not take the road less travelled. That snow is seriously deep, and I ended up post-holing through past my knees a few times. At least it was pretty.
Is that mountain starting to look familiar to anyone?
How about now?
That’s right, it was the inspiration for the Coors Light logo. Anyway… Shortly after I passed through the meadow, I approached the summit of the trail. The views through the aspen trees opened up once again.
About 45 minutes up, I reached the top of the ridge, which is also the top of the free gondola. I ventured a little past the summit to an overlook with great views of Telluride.
There was a bench and an informational sign that educated me a little bit on Telluride. However, the views were so outstanding that I honestly don’t remember what I read. At that point, I ambled up to the gondola station to hitch a ride down. It would have been a lovely walk down, but I had places to be (the hot tub). Before heading down, a couple was nice enough to take a picture of me.
Apparently I’d somehow hit one of the filters on my iPhone before handing it off, so unfortunately this photo will forever be sepia toned. Oh well!
After a lovely ride down, I made a beeline for the hotel’s fantastic spa for a little R&R and sunbathing in the hot tub. I owe you a more complete review of The Peaks, but for now I’ll leave you with this:
Telluride is hands-down the most beautiful place I’ve ever skied.
With high, rugged terrain surrounded by jagged peaks, it’s a truly special mountain with much different scenery than my home mountains of Vail and Beaver Creek.
And on this particular weekend, it was spectacularly sunny.
So how did I come to be in this ski paradise? I actually visited Telluride on a work trip. I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. I’ve always loved this gorgeous corner of Colorado but had never visited during the winter. So I was thrilled at the opportunity for a Telluride ski trip. We stayed at the gorgeous The Peaks Resort and Spa. Along with being an absolutely beautiful luxury property, it had the added advantage of being ski-in/ski-out.
Even though it’s not exactly a hassle to get from my house to the lifts on a typical ski day, this kind of access just makes it over-the-top easy. After a leisurely morning and a quick breakfast in the hotel’s coffee shop, we literally took an elevator down to the slopes. Then a short run took us to a chairlift to access the rest of Telluride’s terrain. On the way, we took in a great view of The Peaks – the large white hotel looked a little like a château to me.
After another chairlift ride, we had all of Telluride’s terrain at our fingertips. It is an even bigger mountain than I’d been expecting and we didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, I was able to employ one of my favorite tips for skiing a new-to-you mountain by asking the ski instructor sitting next to us on the chair for some areas to explore. We headed to the Chair 5 area to warm up on some blue cruisers en route to our next stop.
We weren’t even at the top of the mountain yet, but I already couldn’t stop snapping photos. Between the nonstop natural beauty and the fact that I got a rare ski day with this guy, who typically works on the weekends, I was grinning from ear to ear.
From there, we headed to the top of the mountain, where the runs got steep and the views opened up for miles.
Here, we made our biggest miscalculation of the day, when I just couldn’t resist skiing this chute that we saw from the chairlift.
Looks nice, right? It was also a literal rock field at the top, and once we started down it we couldn’t get out or avoid skiing straight over rocks. I think I heard my skis crying. Anyway, once we made it down, we returned to the top of the mountain in hopes of finding some rockless snow. And we definitely found it. Revelation Bowl turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the mountain.
Revelation Bowl is on the back side of Telluride, and while the runs are short, the views are even more spectacular than those on the front.
At this point it was late morning, and the sun had softened up the bumps to the point of perfection. I took a couple of laps on Bee’s Run, a short bump run that was one of my favorites of the day.
Although I could have skied Revelation Bowl (don’t you love that name?) all day, we decided to keep exploring after a few more runs. We had a lot of mountain to ski before 4 p.m.
From there, we set out to explore and skied almost the entire mountain. The only chairlifts that we missed were the ones on the side of the mountain where you can ski down to the town of Telluride, and we didn’t even realize we’d missed them until we went to town the next day!
In addition to loving the phenomenal scenery, I enjoyed the variety of terrain, fun steeps and well-groomed cruisers that Telluride had to offer. Even the long catwalk that we accidentally found ourselves skiing down was kind of fun. The knock-out views toward the top and the zillion-dollar homes toward the bottom kept me entertained the whole time.
Another area we loved was Prospect Peak. This chair serves some of the highest terrain on the mountain, including some hike-to runs that looked like they would have been worth the hike on a powder day. We took a short break at the top of Prospect to bask in the sunshine in some perfectly placed Adirondack chairs.
The views and the runs in this area were equally delicious – I highly recommend it all.
Overall, there are a few things that make Telluride a spectacular place to ski, in my opinion. First of all, it was blissfully un-crowded, even on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend when the resorts along the I-70 corridor are typically mobbed. I’d imagine that Telluride’s remote location keeps crowds manageable all season long. Second, we loved the fabulously steep terrain that the San Juan Mountains provide (and don’t worry, there’s plenty of mellow terrain too). And the overwhelming factor that made Telluride a memorable mountain for me was the phenomenal scenery that I’ve mentioned 600 times already. I still don’t feel like I’ve done it justice though!
So, where’s the prettiest place you’ve ever skied?
More than once, friends have asked me how I manage to eat the things I blog about without gaining tons of weight. It’s a fair question, especially when I reflect upon some of my more glutinous trips (hello Portland: donuts, fried chicken, wine and biscuits).
To be honest, there are definitely trips when I feel like I return with a little more baggage than I left with, if you know what I mean. But overall I’m able to stay (reasonably) healthy and fit while traveling by embracing balance.
One of my favorite healthy living bloggers who is also a nutritionist, Kath, wrote a great post about how It’s Easier to Add Than Subtract to attain a healthy balance. This really struck a chord with me and I think it applies especially well to staying healthy while traveling. I have a big problem with the idea of heavily restricting my diet, especially when I’m in a new place full of regional cuisine and fun restaurants I want to try. I much prefer to add some healthy habits to my trips while still allowing myself to indulge in whatever tempts me.
Here are a few examples of simple “additions” to make for a healthier vacation:
Instead of skipping indulgent eats, add some exercise.
This one is the easiest for me because I genuinely enjoy staying active. It’s a no-brainer to lace up my sneakers for a run around a new city, go for a hike or hit the hotel gym for a quick weights session.
If breaking a sweat does not sound like your idea of a vacation, there are plenty of ways to increase your activity level throughout the day without working out. The easiest is walking, which I also find to be the absolute best way to explore a new location. Skip the car and public transit and map out a walking loop to see the sights. Not sightseeing? Jump in the ocean for a swim instead of lounging on your towel. Go out dancing after dinner instead of sitting at the bar with a nightcap. You get the idea.
Instead of skipping dessert, add a salad.
This might sound counterintuitive because you could end up ordering more food, but I find that when I start my meal with a salad, the greens take the edge off and lead to a healthier dinner overall. You’ll be too busy forking lettuce to reach for the bread basket, and by the time your entrée comes you might be full enough to pack up half to stash in the hotel mini-fridge for another time. Then order that molten chocolate cake. You deserve it.
Instead of skipping that vacation cocktail, add at least 3 extra glasses of water throughout the day.
I find one of the biggest challenges to healthy travel can be staying hydrated. When I’m on the go, I just tend to drink less water. And we all know that dehydration can lead to fatigue, hunger and stomach trouble, among other things. Start the day by telling yourself that in order to enjoy happy hour later, you have to drink a certain amount of water. That goal should keep hydration front-of-mind and allow you to make better decisions all day.
Instead of skipping that donut on the breakfast buffet, add some lean protein to your plate.
Sugar in the morning can set us up for cravings all day long and a crash in the early afternoon. But if it doesn’t affect you that badly, have at it – just balance it. No one functions at their peak after starting the day on pure sugar. Your body needs lean protein to stay full and complex carbohydrates for energy. A scoop of eggs, slice of turkey, or yogurt plus a small slice of whole wheat toast or a handful of granola should do the trick.
Instead of sticking to the same old museum-hopping, beach-lounging or whatever you tend to do, add a new active adventure to the agenda.
Mix it up! You might just find something new that you love. At the beach? Give stand-up paddle boarding a shot. In the city? Sign up for a bike tour. In the mountains? Try snowshoeing or nordic skiing.
Help me out! What are some healthy “additions” that you make while traveling?
It’s time for another weekly Travel Theme! This week, the theme is Silver, and it was actually a bit of a challenge to find the photos to match. It turns out that I gravitate toward color in life and in my photography. But not to worry – I managed to find some great shots featuring the lovely metallic.
Like these shots of Chicago’s skyline reflected in “The Bean.”
And the trippy underside of the sculpture:
In keeping with the sculpture theme, I loved this bike along Ft. Lauderdale Beach with the slogan, “Green Your Routine.”
And this artwork in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado. I’m almost positive that the metal was silver but it looks a little golden due to the setting sun.
It’s not traditional art, but this beautiful bridge and the river flowing beneath it gleamed silvery-bronze during a misty morning run in Durango.
And the sky was feeling quite moody and artistic during a walk I took through rural Paonia, CO.
Traveling farther afield, the most amazing vacation of my life (to this point at least), took place aboard the Silver Spirit cruise ship.
And while we were blessed with gorgeous, sunny weather during the cruise, I did capture this shot of the sea surrounding Santorini glimmering silver at dusk.
And because I just couldn’t help myself, I had to include a couple of shots of the silvery Christmas light displays at Christmas Town in Williamsburg, VA.
So those are my most silvery sights over the last year or so. Tell me, are there any places you’ve visited that you associate with a particular color?