Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vacation - Off to a Great Start!

I am officially back!!  We got home Saturday evening and I took a couple days to catch my breath. First, let me say the trip was fantastic and I have tons to share.  I think I am going to break down the highlights into several posts that I will share over the next week or so. In this first post, I am focusing on the first couple days and some of our efforts to make this trip somewhat healthy.

This vacation opportunity came very suddenly. Honestly, I was a little bummed about the timing. I was in a great place with diet/exercise and I did not want to get derailed. .From a budget and diet standpoint we decided to only eat one meal out each day. I packed a cooler full of healthy foods - turkey meatloaf, grilled chicken, boiled eggs, veggies, apples, sweet potatoes, string cheese, etc.  We were super lucky to be staying in a beautiful home where we had access to an amazing kitchen.

I was very impressed with ourselves on the way out there. I can't remember the last time I got in a car for a road trip without a pile of snacks - candy, chips, etc. We left home at 3 a.m.  Around 6 a.m. we stopped to watch the sunrise while I made us peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
If you knew how much I love Casey's breakfast pizza you would be even more impressed that I was making peanut butter and banana sandwiches for their parking lot!
Road tip - wrap the peanut butter bread around the banana. Less messy to make and easier to handle.
Once we got to Denver, we ate breakfast at the house every day (or on super early mornings took it with us to eat at a more reasonable breakfast hour). I think breakfast is the easiest meal to keep on track, but by no means insignificant. You can easily spend some serious calories on breakfast out. We actually had breakfast for lunch one day at a restaurant - we shared a giant breakfast burrito smothered in green pork chili (a Denver thing) and strawberry stuffed French toast.  Imagine if we had done this every day. Yeah my mouth is watering too just thinking about it.

There is absolute truth in this sign at the restaurant where we ate our breakfast for lunch.
Incidentally, it was at this meal that we met a Michigan transplant waitress who reminded us so much of a friend (also from Michigan). She asked us if we "smoked" and if we wanted to know how/where we could buy pot. She said tourists are often afraid to ask. Honestly, we had enough exposure just driving through the city - grow houses can let off a serious odor!!

Sorry about that little detour...back to our 14 hour drive to Denver.  For lunch we stopped at Subway. I had gathered up some random gift cards we had around the house to lighten our road budget a bit. It was also a good break from the car. We actually needed several breaks from the car because of this...
We were trying to stay super hydrated to reduce the likelihood of getting altitude sickness. Our stop at Subway was pretty uneventful...I've seen better sandwich artists, but it was okay. And of course, there was the opportunity for water with ice and a straw :)
All that water led to many stops. At this particular truck stop, they were cleaning the ladies' room so I had to use this trucker shower/bathroom (shower is right around the corner from the toilet). It was a little weird.  For the record, my husband makes fun of me because I always end up finding something weird to take pictures of in public restrooms.
Like I said, I can't remember a time when I went on a road trip without the usual junk food...not this time. Our snack of choice was hummus and veggies. I found this hummus trio at Aldi. We liked all three varieties.I am not against my foods touching each other, but I wasn't crazy about the fact that there was no divider between the flavors, so by the end it was getting pretty smeared together.
The night we arrived in Denver we ordered pizza and wings from a local place. The wings were great (but a tad hot for me) and the pizza was okay. We ordered it as takeout, but both agreed the place we got it from would be a great place to hang out and watch a football game with friends - kind of a local bar with an everyone knows you vibe.
The first two days we were in Denver we planned to take it kinda easy and let our bodies acclimate to the elevation change. So, Saturday morning we decided to drive out and look at the Red Rocks amphitheater.  My friend had mentioned there would be people out there working out in the amphitheater. We saw all sorts of workouts happening - people running stadiums, yoga, boot camp class, burpees (one girl was working her way down the steps doing a burpee on each one!), body weight strength training,etc.

Of course, my husband couldn't resist a quick push up or two!
There were plenty of runners on the hike trail too. The lady with her back to us in the picture had stopped to chat for a minute. She has recently lost 100 pounds and is still working on losing more. Go, her!!! 

The amphitheater has a neat little museum. My favorite part was the Hall of Fame. So many huge acts have played that stage. Seriously, name one...I bet it was there.
They displayed plaques for each year's concerts. Oh how I wanted to step back in time. Please tell me it is NOT too late to get tickets for Aug. 17, 1984 or August 31, 1986!!!
No doubt, I am a child of the 80s :)

Since we were taking it easy we didn't join in the workouts, but we weren't there long before we had decided we would drive out another day before we left to try our own Red Rocks workout.  After visiting the museum we got sucked into a hike around the Red Rocks area. We almost didn't because the signs were a bit ominous and I was nervous I wasn't going to make it. It was the first of several things I was so glad I didn't chicken out on doing this trip.

*** I know this post is getting out of control long, but I have so many pictures to share. Later today (or tomorrow) I will post again with additional pictures of the Red Rocks and Mt.Falcon hikes. ***

Red Rocks Hike - 4.02 miles.

Mt. Falcon hike - .69 miles

Then we drove a bit to Mt. Falcon and started hiking up it in search of castle ruins I had seen online. From Mt. Falcon we could look back at Red Rocks...not quite as impressive from a mile or so away.

We hiked for awhile with no castle in sight. Thankfully, we met a man who told us the ruins were about a 4 mile hike away - that wasn't going to happen.  However, a 10 mile drive would take us to the park at the top of Mt. Falcon and they were a short walk from there, That we could do. We returned to our car to drive to the other side of the mountain and the castle end of the trail.

It was the first of the precarious mountain driving. My husband had an opportunity to practice the manual shifting paddles on our car before we got to the "real" mountain driving.

Mt. Falcon Park - 1.85 miles 

Once we got to Mt. Falcon park it was getting much warmer, we were getting a bit tired, but headed out to see the ruins anyway.

Not exactly the castle ruin I was expecting. The home was built more like a chalet by a wealthy Colorado business man. He has been credited for keeping so much of Colorado open for the public. He endured some terrible tragedies. His wife died and then two years later his home burned down.
After all the hiking we did. This was the section that almost made me cry. It was hot and I was tired and all I could see was that long hill in the blazing sun. We came prepared with water and sunscreen...somehow we made it without melting.
So, on day one of our "rest and acclimate" plan we managed to log 6.56 miles....ooops!

We headed home for lunch and to relax for awhile. I made a sandwich out of one of the turkey veggie meatloaves. I need to remember to do that at home for a lunch or two.
Part of our free lodging deal was to dog-sit for a few days. He was a good pup and didn't mind sharing his couch with us.
Our treat for Saturday was dinner at Tocabe - A Native American Eatery featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives. We sampled a few different items.

Indian Tacos - fry bread topped with chicken, veggies, beans, and a couple sauces
Bison Ribs with Blueberry BBQ Sauce - the sauce was the star of this dish - spicy, sweet. My husband finished it off the sauce by dipping his fry bread in it. The meat was good, but I would not have known the difference between bison and beef.
Wojapi Topped Fry Bread - berries reduced to a jam like consistency - basically funnel cake on steroids.
Sunday morning we made another futile attempt to take it easy. There was a park with a lake a couple blocks from my friend's house, so we decided to take her dog for a morning walk around the lake. The path around was about 3 miles. Thankfully, it was flat. One thing I will say for Denver - the people were active. Maybe our point of view was skewed by our activities, but there were always people out and about getting in their exercise...even better if they were with their dog.

Sunday lunch was another meatloaf sandwich with some veggies on the side.

Sunday afternoon, we decided to make a trip to Little Man Ice Cream. It was so hot and the line was  long, but we stuck it out. When we got to the counter to choose our ice cream we were very disappointed to learn they have an express line and that was the only line where you could order the Salted Oreo ice cream (their best seller). Of course, by the time we finally got to the counter we were not going to leave and go to another line. We "made do" choosing from about 20 or so other flavors.
I chose French Toast and Mexican Chocolate. The French Toast was the star. My husband's taste turned into several bites leaving me wanting more. We made plans to visit again (more on that in a future post).
We had a slight misunderstanding about dinner. I am all about Thai, but the one time we went together my husband didn't like what we ordered. Recently, he had mentioned eating Thai a long time ago and having a dish he really liked. While walking around the lake I saw a restaurant - Thailicious. I was basically pointing out every restaurant I saw. He said we could try the Thai. I took that to mean he wanted to, but turns out he was just being nice and I kinda ran with it. I am usually pretty good at finding something on a new menu that he will like. I ordered the Drunken Noodles and he got a curry trio (red, green and yellow). I breathed a sigh of relief when I liked the red curry, but then green and yellow were a no-go for him. We ended up packing up the food, stopping to get him a different dinner and taking it to the house to eat. Truth is, I was thrilled to have my dinner and his (for lunch another day). If that restaurant were in my hometown I would be there good!
Drunken Noodles

Traffic Light Curry

Still drinking ALL the water to keep hydrated. The little cup was aluminum which strangely makes the water seem even colder. Don't tell my mother-in-law. She has some aluminum cups and I always ask for glass instead...something about the metal bugs me, but here I was fine. Maybe I felt a little fancy.

Clearly it was going to be a challenge to find balance throughout the week - food we brought with us v/ treats out and rigorous activity v. relaxation. The first half of the trip was perfect - we made plenty of healthy choices to balance our treats.  Spoiler Alert! The second half of the trip there was a bit of slippage. A couple days we had two meals out, one day we brought snacks back to the house to watch a movie, and we had ice cream two more times.

Back to reality - yesterday was my first day back at work. Time to buckle down and get back on track. My food was on point!

Breakfast - I missed you, sweet potato hash.
I made some Cajun Shrimp Foil Packets before I went back to work to entice me back into delicious healthy eating. The sweet potato was small, but not quite as tiny as it appears in the picture. The nectarine was pretty good - I always have trouble with getting the perfect ripeness.
I was super hungry (okay, I confess...I was hangry) when I got home - I could not get this wrap into my beak fast enough. I spread a bit of hummus on the wrap and then rolled turkey, Swiss, lettuce and cucumbers up in it. I will definitely be doing that again!  A bit later I had a peanut butter and banana on toast because I was much lower in total calories than I wanted to be for the day. Yesterday was the first time I logged in to My Fitness Pal for some time. Last month, I concentrated on eating better and this month I want to be sure I am in a good calorie range.
I took two 15 minute breaks at work and walked up and down the halls. I made a solid effort to keep my heart rate up the whole time. I did laps incorporating a flight of steps into each lap. I ended up doing about 20 flights of stairs (up and down) between the two walks.

Remember to keep an eye out for the next post with many more pictures from Red Rocks and Mt. Falcon.



    Love that you had this opportunity and kept it least for the first part.

    I love drunken noodles. My husband is also not a fan of Thai food. When we visit or vice versa we can send the hsubands away and enjoy on our own!

  2. I love drunken noodles, too! One of my favorite Thai dishes, for sure, although I do want to get more adventurous with my choices. Great job staying active and on plan, looks like a lot of fun was had by all. The best kind of vaycay!!

  3. Oh what a wonderful trip! I love seeing all the pics! Confession, I've never had Thai food! It looks good though, especially the Drunken Noodles! (What makes them drunk?)

  4. Colorado has beautiful hiking trails.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Looking forward to more photos.

  5. I read all the words and saw all the pictures, but my brain is most impressed with the funnel cake on steroids.

    Glad you had a good vacation!!!

  6. Your pictures are just unreal. So beautiful! I showed Eric and he was of course additionally jealous about Red Rocks. I'm so glad you guys had this amazing experience!

  7. Wow I love this post. Thanks so much for sharing. And while I don't know what Drunken Noodles are I absolutely want to try them now.


  8. Sounds awesome thus far!!!! I'm ready for more pictures and the next segment of your vacation!!!