A few years ago, my older sister, Emily and her husband, Shane, moved out to Boulder, Colorado to pursue their PhDs at University of Colorado, Boulder. Last year, my younger sister -Sarah-‘s boyfriend, Ryan, transferred out there for his job, and Sarah followed a few months later. I had always planned on visiting, and when Emily got pregnant with Natalie, we had even more motivation to go. Then we found out we were expecting and I was so upset I wouldn’t be able to meet my niece for a while.
However, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that there wasn’t anything holding us back from traveling. Yes, we’d have an infant with us this time, but it was totally worth it. Plus, since I’d already be on maternity leave, I didn’t have to worry about taking time off work!
I tend to be a go-with-the-flow type, but something about traveling with a six week old put my stress levels on overdrive. I didn’t know how I was going to handle the flight out there, so my mom graciously drove down from Rochester to Charlottesville to fly with all of us. Just having her there put my mind at ease. If Finn decided to have a fit mid-flight, I would have David and Mom to help me. Plus, the extra hands helped a bunch. We had diaper bags, my breast pump, a carseat and stroller, plus all of our stuff to worry about. Mom was a life saver!
Of course, Finn made me feel foolish for ever worrying because he slept the ENTIRE flight! He didn’t even wake up to eat – and I wasn’t going to wake the beast.
When we arrived in Denver, we took a short drive through Boulder and into a tiny old mining town called Nederland where we AirBnB-ed a house. David was in heaven. He immediately assembled his fly rod and headed to the stream nearby to catch some fish. Throughout the week we did several hikes, and Finn did amazing in his Baby Bjorn. David was also able to set up a guided fishing trip and spent two mornings fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains.
It was also July 4th weekend so we enjoyed fireworks and the cutest parade I’ve ever seen. We played countless games of euchre, drank way too much craft beer, and enjoyed each other’s company. On the last day, David, Finn, Mom and I went to Estes Park to shop a bit and enjoy the views.
I can’t wait to take Finn on more family vacations in the future. He and Natalie will grow up together, and the thought of that melts my heart. Now it’s time for Emily and Sarah to come visit Charlottesville, right guys?!
David and I had been planning our trip to Belize long before our wedding in July. We initially thought we should go just after our wedding, but after some research we realized that our trip to paradise was better off in the wintertime. Why? Belize temperatures never dip below the high-70s and the water temperature is a cool 72 degrees year round. We knew that by the time winter rolled around, we’d be itching for some nice weather.
From the moment we touched down in Belize City, we were greeted with huge smiles and friendly faces wanting to help. Belize is a beautiful paradise, but not as popular for Americans to vacation to as say Cancun or Jamaica. Because of this, we felt the authenticity of the culture the entire time we were there.
We flew into Belize City early Friday morning and then hopped on a 10-seater plane to an island known as Ambergris Caye. We then took a boat to our lodge, El Pescador – or The Fisherman – and was met on the dock by a smiling Marlin, our host for the week. We stayed in a newly renovated lodge complete with three pools, a full bar and beach access. In total, about forty people stayed at the resort with us and we ate family-style each night so we got to know the other guests quite well.
David found El Pescador through his fly-fishing circle. At first I was hesitant that I was being dragged along on a fishing trip, but the truth is it was the perfect place to be. David would wake up early, long before me, and head to the lagoons just walking distance from the lodge. He would fish until he knew I was awake and then join me for breakfast. Then each day we planned an activity. One day we took a golf cart to The Secret Beach, just on the other side of the island. Another day we went snorkeling on the second largest barrier reef in the world. We went swimming with sharks and rays, too. It was absolutely breathtaking, and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We went paddleboarding and kayaking, and finally on the last day, I told David I need to just relax, so I sat by the pool why he scoured the lagoons for more fish.
We also took one day to go out with a guide fly fishing. Belize is known for the Big 3 Fish: tarpon, permit and bonefish. Anglers from all over the world go to Belize in search of those fish. We both were able to catch bonefish, although David caught many more and much bigger ones than I did, and David also fought with a tarpon until he landed it. It was so great to watch him smile so big after he caught the fish!
It’s been a while since I went on a vacation and felt at home the entire time. We weren’t even there for two days before we started planning our return trip! Who’s joining us next time?
Whenever I find out someone is getting married, my first question is “are you honeymooning?” I’m always so interested in where people decide to travel! However, when David and I were planning a wedding, a honeymoon seemed like a monstrous task that, in addition to all the details of the wedding, I was just not capable of planning all at once.
David, however, spent a lot of his time searching for places to honeymoon. We both wanted to go somewhere different, that we will likely never get a chance to visit again. Oh, and one more criteria: David wanted to fish. Some might think I’m crazy for going along with the fishing thing, but I figure if I can get a pretty awesome vacation out of the deal, and he takes a day to fish, go for it.
We searched a bunch of places and found an unbeatable deal to… Belize! We tried to make it work out for the week after our wedding, but the planning started to stress me out. Instead, we pushed back the honeymoon to December, and the week after our wedding we decided to mini-moon.
Apparently this is a trend, but David and I totally feel we deserve credit for the term “mini-moon”. After months of planning, we wanted to escape without a plan. After a day of rest on Sunday – which was much needed – David and I hopped in the car Monday morning and decided to drive East.
We told some people we were spending time in the Adirondacks, others we mentioned Boston. The truth is, there was no plan. We just wanted to see where we went.
On Monday we took the New York State Thruway to Saratoga Springs. I’d never driven through the town before, so we did just that. We toyed with the idea of staying the night there, but decided to keep driving. We stopped for ice cream in Lake George, but kept going north. At some point in the drive, we decided to stay in Burlington, Vermont. We took the last ferry over Lake Champlain, found a hotel near Church Street, and got ready for dinner. We decided to grab flatbread pizza at a local restaurant. It was fantastic. I don’t know if this happens to other brides, but I felt like I couldn’t eat enough after the wedding. Maybe it was the months of working out and eating semi-right, but I feel like I ate enough for four full-sized men the week after the wedding!
The next morning we walked Church Street a bit and I got a cup of coffee straight from a tap! (I did pay nearly $5 for it!) We left Burlington around noon, eating leftover pizza in the car ride to Waterbury, Vermont. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s factory. I was shocked the tour was only $4 a person, and we both enjoyed the free ice cream at the end of the tour.
Afterwards, David wanted to check out a local fly shop he had heard of. After a disappointing visit there, we continued to Stowe, Vermont where I used to ski with my family when I was little. The mountains were gorgeous, and the little town at the bottom was adorable. We considered taking a gondola ride to the top, but opted to get back in the car because we wanted to make it to Boston before dark.
The best part of the mini-moon was the time in the car with my new husband. At one point David said “we really do travel well together!” I’m sure some couples would have freaked out having had no reservations, no time frame, and no plans. But we thrive that way!
We made it to Boston just before dark, but the bad news was, we couldn’t find a hotel room! We called what felt like a million places before our phones died! We backtracked back up I-93 to Concord, New Hampshire. We found a dumpy hotel on the side of the highway, but they didn’t have any rooms that night. Feeling defeated, we asked to use their lobby to charge the phones quickly. After a quick search, David found a fancy looking place just 8 minutes away. We called and they had rooms available, so we quickly made our way there.
The Continental Hotel was just a block from the Capitol building in downtown Concord. I loved the little town – it felt very New England. David told the hotel our story of frustration, and they gave us a heckuva deal. To top it off, we had the best meal of the trip in the 5-star restaurant inside the hotel! It all worked out in the end 🙂
The next morning we woke up early to try for Boston again. We made it into the city around 10am, and headed for the aquarium. We were less than impressed with it, but we continued to walk the Boston Harbor and Quincy Market. Boston is a cool town, but we were in relaxation mode, so we hopped back in the car after about 5 hours in town, and went searching for Wahlburgers. (The only request David had for the entire trip was to go to Wahlburgers – Mark Wahlberg”s family restaurant. I think that’s the only reason we ended up in Boston, too!)
We found the restaurant in a shopping center in the suburbs of Boston. The food was good, and fortunately there was a Verizon store next door. We bought a car charger for our phones and headed back north. The scenery was beautiful and kept us distracted as we tried to decide where to spend our last evening of the trip.
Somehow, and I really don’t know how, we ended up in Lake Placid. David had never seen the Adirondacks before. He tried to convince himself that since we lived in Virginia near the mountains, that we shouldn’t spend time in Lake Placid. But as soon as he saw the streams and the beauty of the ADKs, he was in love. He kept saying he wished we spent the whole week there!
We got into town late and grabbed a quick bite to eat. The next morning we woke up and I told David that I would go fly fishing with him. He was so happy! It was the best part of the trip!
As we headed back to my parent’s house, life started settling in. We are married now! How incredible! We loved our spontaneous road trip, but we are so looking forward to Belize in just four short months!