san antonio - breck - vail + 2015

hope you all are ready for lots and lots (and lots!) of photos!

this past week we took a trip up to san antonio for a couple days, followed by a week in colorado with some of the extended family. i haven't been to colorado since a girl's ski trip we took when i was about 10, and i was super excited to return. summer is the off season for breckenridge and vail, so while it might sound kind of odd to visit when there is no skiing or snowboarding, we had an awesome time with the summer activities. it was also a bonus that the lodges weren't a total madhouse, as is the case during winter. (note: this does mean some of the shops and lodges were closed due to seasonality.)

we kicked off this whole shebang in san antonio, texas with friday's date night at paesano's on the riverwalk. this adorable italian restaurant has tons of delicious pasta dishes, appetizers, and drinks to choose from, our choices being the alfredo pasta and tortellini. we followed up with our usual tour around the riverwalk, soaking it all in and i picked up an adorable little necklace and a couple gifts for the family. san antonio is my favorite texas city and is an awesome place pick up southwestern/mexican influenced gifts!

on saturday we wandered off our traditional riverwalk path to guillermo's in downtown san antonio. after much walking, we weren't yet sick of italian, and the small restaurant, which is located in an old victorian-style home had some truly amazing pizza.

the fam had initially debated san antonio and austin as the destination for this vaycay, and it was smart we headed north instead. while so much fun, texas was pretty friggin hawt.

on sunday we flew into denver, starting our vacation for reals by meeting up with the rents, my brother, uncles and cousins for dinner at the walnut brewery in downtown boulder. the brewery not only had awesome beer, but a menu rounded out with 4-cheese mac and cheese, bison fajitas, and warm pretzels. 

we split between a few of the fam's homes in boulder to crash on sunday evening, and on monday morning reconvened at my uncle's house with coffee and bagels (oh, how i've missed einstein bagels!!!) before heading up into the mountains. the younger bro (who currently lives in boulder) took us the back way up the winding mountain roads through georgetown and then loveland pass, which is a high mountain pass on the continental divide in the rocky mountains. the view was incredible, however if twisty treacherous mountain roads aren't really your thing, espeically in winter, there is an alternate interstate route through the eisenhower tunnel.

monday afternoon, we arrived at our digs for the week, and had dinner at the breckenridge brewery and pub, where they happen to brew my fam's favorite avalanche ale. we finished off our travel day with a fire and hot cocoa, and since down in florida and texas we rarely reach fireplace-worthy temps even in the winter, we were stoked (no pun intended) to be able to build a fire on summer vacation!! (once again grateful we weren't all sweating it in south texas!)

on tuesday we woke up bright and early (with us all coming from different time zones our internal clocks were a little off), to prepare breakast (breckfast. get it...womp womp, cheesey-joke alert!) of pancakes, eggs and bacon before heading out on our 14 mile bike ride! we began at the bike shop in breck to be fitted for our bikes and helmets. each person was assigned a bike named for a celebrity so they could identify who had which one at the top of the mountain. i had katy perry, j had frank zappa, sean had hozier, and my mom had lyle lovett (hahaha!) my uncle was less than thrilled to be handed jerry garcia, and we couldn't decide if it was a bad omen to get a bike named after a dead celeb before careening down a mountain. we hopped in our cars and followed the bike shuttle over to frisco, where we dropped off our cars, and boarded the shuttle to be taken the rest of the way up to vail. we then rode down vail pass through copper mountain, ending in frisco where we returned our bikes alongside a brewery and coffee shop.

if you're in breck, this was a really cool excursion in that they gave you a lot of freedom in how you want to ride. we got our bikes around 9:30a and had use of them until 4:30p. once you're off the shuttle at the top of the mountain, the shop gives you the option to ride all the way from vail pass back to breck if you'd like, or you could hop off in frisco and head back to your car as we did. if you're not sure how far you'll feel like going, you can leave your car in breck, ride the shuttle all the way to vail, and then if later if you decide not to ride all the way back to your car, you can drop your bike off and take a free bus back to breckenridge. since most of the ride from vail pass to frisco is downhill, it's not too taxing, with no special cycling skills required. however the ride starts with several steep, sharp switch backs, and the crowded trail was a little tricky to navigate at the beginning.  if you're looking for more of a challenge, you have the option to bike all the way back to the shop in breckenridge, the portion from frisco to breck being mostly uphill. we took it easy given the most all of us are acclimated to sea level altitudes. 

i also loved that we were allowed to go at whatever pace we felt like (we stopped and took as much time as we felt like at the scenic stops for photos and meandering through copper mountain and frisco) and then we were able to take the hills at mach 1, rather than having to follow a guide around. we ended with drinks and a light lunch alongside the frisco marina. 

after a quick nap, we spent the rest of the day exploring downtown breck and shopping through a little afternoon rain, with dinner at the blue stag saloon, where they had the single most amazing take on a moscow mule i've ever tried. (peach vodka and a habanero simple syrup. SO good!)

wednesday started one of my favorite parts of the trip - we took a quick walk (more like a small hike given the altitude and terrain!) through the neighborhood and then left for our white water rafting trip down the blue river. the water is all snow melt, so it's resting at about 40-45 degrees f, which meant we started by suiting up in wet suits, booties, jackets and the mandatory life vests. we got a quick refresher in safety and high siding, and were off, with j and i placed in front as the motor! we did awesome, and despite a little soreness in my core, i can't wait to try a rougher rapid on our next trip. (rafting is a pretty awesome ab work out!)

after rafting, we headed back to the house for snacks, showers, dry clothes and a little rest before heading up via the gondola to the peak 8 park. the gondola is free to ride, and offers some picturesque views of breck. once at the park we had a little happy hour and walked around to check everything out before heading back to home base for dinner in with steaks, salad, corn on the cob and curly fries. followed up with some baseball games on tv, and cigars and whiskey in the hot tub! another kind of cool part about renting a home on vacation as opposed to a more traditional hotel; you can cook/stay in more comfortably if that's what suits you.

thursday was my birthday, so the extended family joined us back up at peak 8 for the alpine slide in the morning, day drinks and a scenic chair lift way up to the top of the mountain. the park is a fun choice if you have kids, with lots of games and amusement park type rides. we loved the alpine slide, where you take a chair lift up to what is normally the ski runs and then sit on a board and slide down the mountain on a concrete slide. you can control your speed on the board using a lever that you can press forward to accelerate, and back to brake. on the chair lift, we rode up to the very top of the lift, got off and hiked up the side of the mountain (at about 12,000 feet) for an even better view!

the rest of thursday we spent at one of my other most favorite parts of the vacation: walking around and shopping in vail. vail is an adorable germanic-style village with lots of boutiques, restaurants and hotels. j got me a cup of black forest cake gelato, and a cute little turquoise ring from one of the shops, and my cousins presented me with an awesome hoodie, socks and some cranberry-balsamic i can't wait to use. (thanks everyone!) when all was said and done (i absolutely would have stayed longer!) we headed back for cake to celebrate a couple of the summer birthdays. 

friday morning we started our trek back down the mountain (this time through the big tunnel!) with another stop in georgetown, and in golden on our way back. i picked up a cookbook i can't wait to use in georgetown (thanks sean!) and golden is home to the world's largest brewery (coors). we took the brewery tour ending with 3 beers and an awesome lunch at woody's pizza in golden, just a few blocks away. if you're interested in the brewery, the tour is pretty cool (it's free and you can whip through is as quickly or as leisurely as you would like) or, if you're just in it for the free beer you can get a different wristband, and head straight to the lounge at the end to collect your free samples. there was a little bit of a line for the tour (you board a shuttle to get from the parking lot to the brewery itself, and you have to wait in line for your samples in the lounge at the end, so allow ample time!) or you can call ahead for an estimate on the wait to get in. for more information check out their site here.

we continued on to to loveland, where we met up with the family again, and played a couple rounds of kan jam. has anyone else heard of this?! it's kind of like cornhole but with a frisbee. naturally the fam has slightly altered the rules: they play it only 25 feet apart, but each player needs to have one hand occupied with a beer so you only have one hand to redirect. and the more you drink, the harder it gets, which happens pretty rapidly since you're constantly holding your beer. after the kan jam championships (which j was on the winning team for!), we piled back into cars and took the scenic route back down to pearl street in boulder. we spent the evening drinking and exploring pearl street, which i LOVED(!) it reminds me of hyde park and international plaza back in tampa, before heading to the airport hotel and flying out the next morning.

we're so happy to be back in our own bed, and we missed the furbabes like crazy, but after a week of gorgeously mild summertime colorado weather, we're sizzling a little down here on the border. and nothing against the valley, but after a week in the picturesque mountains...stuff's looking a little flat. end-of-vacation blues aside, we would love to go back very soon, and definitely recommend colorado as a vacation destination year round. until next time!