In September 2017, my partner and I went on our first big adventure together! We embarked on a journey for 10 days to Colorado, The Grand Canyon and to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Hot Air Balloon Festival.
First, we headed to Denver, Colorado where my partner, Sam's, brother and sister-in-law live. They were kind and generous enough to allow us to stay with them during our time in Colorado. We spent time in Denver walking around the city, eating at fabulous restaurants (Olive & Finch, Voodoo Donuts-maple bacon donut!), toured the Great Divide Brewing Company, which was one of the coolest breweries I've ever been to! We also made a stop at Red Rock Amphitheater- an outdoor amphitheater that hundreds of legends have played at. It was so cool!
Then, we went to Steamboat Springs up in the mountain for a couple days! And oh my gosh, friends, the Colorado mountains, and Steamboat especially is gorgeous! We went at the perfect time of year in that the Aspen trees were turning colors and the beautiful golden color was constantly peeking out of the green evergreens. SO BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't get over how beautiful it was. Here, we hiked up to Fish Creek Falls, and then onward to Long Lake at the top of the mountain. Altogether, we hiked around 13 or 14 miles. About halfway down, we noticed a huge storm rolling in and had to book it down the mountain. We made it down the mountain in less than half the time it took to get up. I will forever cherish the memories we made in the mountains and in Denver.
After our time in Colorado, Sam and I rented a car and made our way toward the Grand Canyon in a 12-hour car ride. The drive into southern Colorado was breathtaking, especially through the San Juan Mountains. Like I mentioned before, the Aspen trees were changing color and they were extra vibrant throughout these particular mountains. However, once we got into Arizona, the drive became unbearably boring as there is NOTHING in northern Arizona. We did drive a little out of our way to go to Four Corners, which was underwhelming (it's just a plaque in the ground).
We stayed in Williams, Arizona, about an hour away from the Grand Canyon. There was this adorable hotel there that turned old train cars into rooms for guests to stay in. Williams is known for being a large part of Route 66, so we were sure to stop at the kitschy 1950s diner restaurant and to go into all of the cute stores. They also have a really cool brewery there called the Historic Brewing Company. They had a dessert there called the Snookie Cookie, which is a half-baked chocolate chip cookie in a small cast-iron pan topped with chocolate drizzle and vanilla bean gelato. Sam can attest that I still dream and talk about this dessert.
The best word I can come up with to describe the Grand Canyon is insane. In fact, "insane" soon became the word of the trip as every ten minutes one of us would say, "Oh my god, that view is insane." Another word would be "immense." The Grand Canyon is so unimaginably large and the fact that we walked for 6 hours and only saw a tiny part of the canyon is mind-boggling. We also woke up early one morning to go see the sunrise at the park and that was beautiful and peaceful.
After the Grand Canyon, we headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico to see the Hot Air Balloon Festival- the largest hot air balloon festival in the world where over 500 balloons are released. Now, Sam and I took a huge chance here. In order for the balloons to lift off, weather conditions need to be rather perfect- very little wind in particular. And we only allotted ourselves one day to be able to see the balloon. Luckily, the day we chose was PERFECT and all of the balloons lifted up with ease and we were so incredibly grateful for that!
Apart from the festival, we walked around the old town and went into the shops, had the best guacamole we've EVER HAD at a restaurant in the old town (they also had agave margaritas that I also dream about), we went up to the top of the Sandia Mountains using the tramway, ate at a Native American Restaurant (Pueblo Harvest Cafe) that had fantastic traditional food, and relaxed at our Airbnb, because we had a fun-filled and exhausting trip.
On our way back to Denver to fly out, we stopped in Santa Fe for a couple hours to walk around the downtown area, grab lunch at a French Cafe, and we happened upon an art fair in the park. Then, we got back in the car and drove to Denver, where we returned home.
This trip was so inspiring, full of beauty, and we made so many wonderful memories that we will cherish forever. My dream is to own a vacation home in the Coloradan Mountains, so stay tuned for that!