2020 Travels and Things (Part 3)

As promised, the third installment of the series! You can catch part one here and part two here.

July

Jose and I really wanted to get out of the city, so we browsed some options to see where we could escape for a few days without being around a ton of people. Flights were still cheap, and Jose was adamant on returning to Denver because he had only been for our day trip with Eddy a few months back. We decided to take a flight to Colorado for a few days to explore the mountains.

We rented a Jeep for the trip, and used the car as a make-shift camping tent. It saved us some money on a hotel, and it ended up being a pretty fun (although uncomfy) experience. The Jeep took us all over the place. We ventured into the mountains to Panorama Point, an absolutely breathtaking trailhead near the city of Boulder. I had been before in November of 2019, when I first visited Colorado with my Southwest Airlines friends. I was adamant to go again, because the weather was now a bit warmer and the scenery was just as fantastic. We snapped lots of photos before adventuring on into the mountains. Along the way, Jose and I stopped and picked up some cool looking rocks to bring back to Texas with us- we were flying Southwest and each were able to bring two free check-in bags, so we figured we would use one for the rocks (which somehow ended up being 24lbs…)

Eventually, we found ourselves at a small little lake called Glacier Lake up in the mountains. I am pretty sure this was on private property of some sort, because the entire lake was lined with little cabins, kayaks, and trucks. We didn’t stay too long- even though we both brought swimsuits, the altitude made the lake SUPER cold! The view was gorgeous though, and the pictures were worth freezing for a bit. After leaving the little lake, we made our way back down the mountain- we made a few pit stops along the way to take more photos, including an amazing area of train tracks hidden in the Rockies. We also stopped in a little town on the way down to explore, but we did not stay super long because the sun was going down and the weather was only getting chillier.

Before settling in and sleeping, we stopped by a food truck and ate some delicious Mexican food curb-side. It was super cold out, but the food was good and it was fun to try a new place. Our final stop of the day was in Cherry Creek State Park near Aurora, where we stayed for the night. In the morning, we woke up early to see the sunrise and loved the view of the mountains from the state park. It was so fun to adventure locally and see all the beautiful sights- the state park also has lots of wildlife, namely Muskrats that are ADORABLE to watch burrow in the ground. The day was spent packing up our rocks (we ran to the store and got a box for them hehe), getting coffee at a cute Denver shop, and returning the rental Jeep before we headed to the airport.

We didn’t spend too much time back in Texas before our next adventure. The short time we were back home, we rode kayaks on the lake near my mother’s house. She had purchased four kayaks early in the year, and was super excited for us all the start using them. A few days after our kayaking outing, we boarded a plane again (mask and sanitizer on deck) and flew out to Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate my sister’s birthday. My sister, Madison, wanted to venture to Atlanta to see the world’s biggest aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is home to some of the largest species alive, including whale sharks which she was particularly keen to see. I was actually shocked to see that Georgia was upholding Covid safety MUCH better than Texas. Even on the streets of downtown Atlanta, everyone wore masks. Any building we entered into was monitored for capacity, and some places (like the aquarium) checked everyone for temperatures before entry.

Our first day in Georgia was spent adventuring the walkable downtown Atlanta, finding food, and journeying to the famous Ponce City Market. We stopped at a liquor store in downtown to get some Crown and sprite for us all to share during our stay. (Surprisingly, my sister drank the majority of it. I am not really a drinker, so I don’t think I had any!) The second day there, we walked down half a mile to the aquarium. I was very impressed by the sheer size of the place. There were numerous exhibits, and all the tanks were absolutely giant. I usually am pretty against the idea of animals in captivity, but seeing how much SPACE these fish and animals had made me feel much better about their quality of life. I was so impressed by the variety of species the aquarium had! We stayed there for a few hours admiring the wildlife, and catching a dolphin show at the end. For Madison’s birthday dinner, we made reservations at a super cute home-style restaurant that had a seasonal menu. We ordered fried chicken, greens, and some delicious honey-glazed fried zucchini. The staff even packed Madison a to-go birthday dessert!

On our last day in Georgia, we made a few tourist-y stops before heading to the airport. The first stop was a small farmers market off the road-side. My mom was in search of Georgia peaches (duh), and some cute preserves that she could bring home for us and for her boyfriend to try. She found lots of goodies, including delicious peach marmalades, jams, and even some home-made peach bread. Of course, I also got some photos with peaches for the aesthetic. After this, we ventured to the famous Georgia Chick-Fil-A! I learned that Chick-Fil-A actually was originated in Georgia, and one of their original locations makes themselves especially unique by offering a “Hawaiian” themed menu. All the employees are dressed in Hawaiian shirts, and the menu is full of INSANE items like fish tacos, boba-tea lemonade, and even sweet potato waffle fries! It was an amazing experience to be able to order so many yummy treats at a Chick-Fil-A. As far as I am aware, this is the ONLY location that offers such delicacies, so my cravings will have to wait until our next trip to Atlanta!

The only other “trip” I experienced in July was a small day trip to a river in Oklahoma. Jose and his family used to frequent this hidden spot, and he wanted to take me to see it too. The place is called Little Niagra, and it is located close to Panther Falls in Oklahoma. The water was gorgeous and bright blue! As the same implies, there were also some nice little waterfalls around the river area, too. It was too cold for me to swim comfortably, but I still got in the water and had fun regardless. It was a great day trip (only an hour and half out from Dallas) and I would definitely go again.

August

August was another super slow month. It was mainly filled with redecorating our new living room on a budget. Jose and I shopped around in thrift stores that were open, as well as looking online. We were able to re-do the entire living room for a couple hundred bucks! I am a huge germ freak, and clean/sweep/etc kinda obsessively, so at first the idea of having used furniture freaked me out. However, I realized that LOTS of thrift stores have furniture that is practically new, or barely used! Especially with small items like tables, lamps, etc, thrifting really is the best way to go. I am pickier with larger items like couches, but we got really lucky on ours. We found a super cute vintage couch with velvety seats, in really good condition. We also stumbled upon a nearly-new daybed that we placed on the other side on the living room, which is now used as a giant comfy couch for guests (or, more often, the cats.) I really love how it has turned out, and we add to it here and there when we get the chance. The thrill of going thrifting and finding amazing steals is exhilarating… I’ve even thought of opening a thrift-flip side gig, just because of how fun it is. The next DIY in the house will probably be the bedroom, or the baby nursery. We spent lots of time at home visiting the kitties, and enjoying time together. The two of us adventured to the Dallas Farmers Market once or twice to get some fresh air and explore the city. Otherwise, we both kept a pretty low profile and just worked and slept.

The main “event” of August was probably attending my friend’s wedding. Blair and her wonderful husband TK have been together for a few years, and I was thrilled when they finally got engaged last year! They planned for a big and beautiful wedding, but of course Covid had other plans. The two decided to keep their wedding date in place, and offered masks and social distancing at their wedding- part of which was outdoors. I snapped a photo of myself in the bathroom without a mask, but if I was around any of the guests, everyone had on a face covering. The event ended up being a smaller but very nice celebration, and I am so happy for them! The two are really so sweet together and deserve the best.

September

The best thing that happened in September was returning (AGAIN) to Denver, with one of my besties, Magnolia! Magnolia and I actually graduated highschool together, and both went on to attend NYU. She is one of the most intelligent, witty, and sweetest humans I have ever met. Now that she has moved back to Texas from New York, I get to see her much more often which makes me so happy! We decided in September to take a little girls trip together. She had never been to Colorado and seeing how it is one of my favorite destinations, I was eager to show her around.

We flew out to Denver airport and got a rental car for the trip. (Magnolia and I found a super cute and cheap Air BnB in Aurora, too, which ended up being SUPER comfy!) Our trip was action packed and super busy. On our first day, we ventured about two hours out to see the gorgeous Garden of The Gods. The “Garden” is actually a giant nature preserve in Colorado Springs that is home to giant sandstone formations, walking trails, and even horseback ride tours. I honestly did not realize how HUGE this place was until we started our hike! Thank goodness we brought sunscreen and water, because we ended up out in the sun for many hours. Magnolia and I explored through different trail-heads, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the even better views (you can actually spot Pike’s Peak from certain areas in the reserve!) We snapped lots of photos, and exhausted ourselves climbing up and down natural rock formations and seeing all the massive structures around us.

After we finally made it back to our rental car, we headed back towards Aurora only to spot a massive, insanely beautiful rock formation along the highway. In true adventurer fashion, we made a quick pit stop off the roadside to inspect this great natural sight. We decided to hike up the formation, which seemed to already have a few carved out trails made by other curious passer bys.. Once we reached higher elevation, the view were immaculate. We spotted a cute little firepit, and stopped to take in the sights.

On our second day, Magnolia and I ventured through Lo-Do (downtown Denver) for a few hours. We explored a dispensary, and of course grabbed a Starbucks drink to enjoy the day with. After, we drove in to the Cherry Creek State Park that I had visited before. We actually discovered the designated swimming spot and beach in the park, and took advantage of the beautiful water and sights. From the park, you could see the peaks of the mountains around- it honestly looked like a Bob Ross painting. We enjoyed the weather (which was surprisingly not too chilly), and waded in the water for an hour or so. Before leaving the park, we researched some near-by food stops to pick up on our way back to the Air BnB. We decided on a delicious Mediterranean place called FelFel. We each ordered a plate to take home, which was SO yummy. As we ate in the Air BnB, we watched Netflix and relaxed. Before going to bed, we thought it would be fun to walk through the gorgeous neighborhood for a bit, and end the evening with some star-gazing on the Air BnB porch. The air, vibes, and scenery of Colorado is simply immaculate- the entire state is so inviting, warming and lovely. I have never had a bad experience in Denver!

On our final day in the state, Magnolia and I ventured to a hiking spot called North Table Mountain Park. We parked our car near the west trailhead, and started our last adventure of the trip. The slope up the trail was INTENSE! The elevation paired with the incline really had me exhausted before we even reached the top. However, once we reached flatter land, I was so glad we stuck to the path. The land was beautiful, full of giant formations and areas for rock climbers to practice. We explored the area, snapped photos, and continued upward to fully see the views of the nature trail. With mountain peaks all around us and clear blue skies, we took a snack and water break in the rocks before making our way back. Before we got far down, we spotted a natural crater! The area was marked off for viewers to enjoy and it appeared as if many rock climbers had made their way up and down the giant space. It was a surprise to see because nowhere did the internet or trail advertise such a natural beauty! We felt really lucky to have spotted it, because had we gone the opposite was down the trail, it would have been missed!

Our trip was relatively short, but super fun none-the-less. We both had a great time, social distancing and all. Once the world returns to a bit of normality, we both would love to go to Colorado again- although next time, we would be better prepared! In retrospect, we both should have brought better hiking gear (especially me, wearing old sneakers…), and carved out more time to explore the especially large trails such as the Garden of the Gods. This was just one trip of many, I am sure!

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