So, the drive from Jackson Hole, WY to Vail, CO was our longest yet, by about 4 hours, with a total drive time of just over 9 whopping hours! Don't think we didn't take advantage of the time together with podcast and road kill counting! Yep, you heard that right! We actually started counting the dead deer on the side of the road for the first 30 miles after we crossed the border into Colorado....
...and I kid you not, we counted 1 live deer and 142 DEAD DEER! I've never seen anything like it! They were EVERYWHERE! But don't let that fool you into thinking Colorado is disgusting, because it is FAAAAR from that! We're both in love with this state and being in Vail, with my aunt, uncle and cousins was the best added perk to this leg of the trip! How beautiful is their house? Don't mind my flower sniffing husband... He think it's funny to be doing something stupid when I snap a photo! :)
Our first day in Vail was spent kind of piddling around (is that a phrase?) and checking out the area. We went up to Beaver Creek, a fancy schmancy rich people spot which is hoppin' in the winter... (not so much in mid May) and did a little window shopping and exploring! It's really a beautiful spot!
Then we took a drive over to Vail Village, a darling 50 year old area of Vail, to check out the old wooden covered bridge...
... fun, one of a kind, cafes and restaurants...
... the outdoor ice skating rink (sadly it was closed today)...
... the pretty Spring flowers...
... cute Swiss looking shops and restaurants...
... charming old churches...
...a bunch of cool statues...
...fancy Swiss looking hotels on the river...
... and the most amazing dogs/puppies you've ever seen! This town is dog friendly to the extreme! :)
We spent the rest of our night with my aunt Barb, uncle Jeff, and cousin Nicole at a fantastic family owned restaurant, feasting on steak and birthday-eve brownies and ice cream! (Thanks to the owner, who's a friend of my aunt and uncle's, this dessert was on the house!)
The next day was my 32nd BIRTHDAY! Woot Woot! I woke up to a knock on my door and my aunt handing me a homemade fruit smoothie (I think she saw me lusting over hers the morning before and knew I'd love one!)... and then when I came downstairs, she had this laying on the counter! L.O.V.E.D it and love her thoughtfulness! She's also a Senior Sales Director at Mary Kay and gave me a $75 gift card to go shopping in her inventory! YES!!! (The yellow fan was actually from our wedding and the picture was from last night's dinner.)
Aaron gave me the funniest birthday card this year! If you've ever lived in Korea, you know why this is funny. (Korean girls love to force their boyfriends to wear "Couple T's" to publicly confess their commitment to each other.) We were actually shopping for a thank you card for our good friends Bill and Helen in Jackson Hole, who I'm pretty sure are our biggest ANP photography business fans and have already referred two of our brides to us, and Aaron found this while I was on the other side of the store and secretly bought it when I wasn't looking! :) I LOVE IT! The inside of the card is even better, but I'll leave that for my eyes... some things should stay private! :)
I love opening presents (I think more than anything, I just love knowing that people thought of me!) and I had quite a few this year! Big thanks to my mom and dad, Pegg, Okk and Loola, Aaron, my sister Amy and my aunt and uncle: Barb and Jeff! I wish I would have taken a picture of everything, but I just got so excited about it all that I forgot! Sad.
At around 10:00am, Aaron, my cousin Nicole and I all headed over to Northside Cafe for a proper doughnut breakfast - They're the best donuts in town, so we had to check them out! My cousin Nicole and I haven't actually had the chance to hang out since I was in Colorado the last time, almost 16 years ago, when I was 16 and she was 10. There wasn't a whole lot of "relating" back then, which is why this time was so great! It was as if we've been friends the whole time and the same age now! Aaron and I absolutely loved getting to hang with her!
After breakfast, Aaron and I drove over to check out President Gerald and Betty Ford's old house in Beaver Creek, which recently sold for a measly 11 million! lol It's in the most incredible neighborhood... surrounded by giant custom homes (some 6 floors) overlooking the ski slopes or the valley below. What's crazy is most of them are VACATION HOMES! Sheesh!
At 2:30pm, I had a little fun at a salon in Vail and had some blonde put back into my hair - aaahhh, to be a little more blonde again! :) Then we went back to my aunt and uncle's house for a family birthday party! My cousin Nicole's birthday is Sunday, so we had a joint party. (From left to right: Aaron, Me, my cousin Zac, my aunt Barb, my cousin Nicole, my cousin Darren, and my uncle Jeff) I'm including 3 pics, cuz I couldn't choose which one was the best of the 15 or so we attempted. We laughed so hard trying to get a good picture of the 7 of us without someone doing something silly... We're a crazy group, for sure!
"Showing off our birthday crowns!"
My adorable husband, who knows me SO WELL, worked so hard to secretly find cupcakes for my birthday! As it turns out, he was able to get a lady to come into her shop during her day off, to make these 12 UNBELIEVABLE custom cupcakes for me! :) It was the best surprise!
I mean look at these flavors - YUMMM!
The next morning, Nicole, Aaron and I drove over to her friend James's ranch. He and two friends live in the oldest home in the area and are surrounded by over 50 horses, a river, cool old barns, and little abandoned homes like this one... It's kind of an eerie place, but awesome at the same time!
... and this little house was originally built for the owner's pot belly pigs, but now the 2 resident peahens (female peacocks) have taken it over and love to hang here when they're not lounging on Jame's 2 chairs on the front porch of his house! Silly peahens.
James, Nicole's friend, is an AVID fly fisherman! He fishes almost everyday and even works in a fly fishing shop in Vail, so when he found out Aaron and I have been wanting to fly fish the whole time we've been on the road trip, he offered to take us out on the river AND even borrowed some waders and rods from his store for FREE! Usually people pay $375 for a full day of fly fishing when he's guiding, so we obviously felt like we had won the lottery and were incredibly appreciative of him doing this all for free and showing us (the girls) the ropes!
This guy was in HEAVEN!!! Especially when I took this picture, because it was right as he was reeling in the first catch of the day, a beautiful trout!
I love how Nicole can look adorable wearing anything... even baggy ole' waders!
I always thought bait fishing was the way to go, but I've been converted! I L.O.V.E fly fishing. There's so much more too it and getting to "whip" the line around is my favorite part! :)
Check out that "whipping" action! lol The guys joked about how they would always flinch when I would re-cast because of how loud my "whipping" the line was! hahaha
James was soooo helpful! He really knows his stuff and taught Nicole and I everything we needed to know about how to cast, reel in the fish and wade out into the FREEZING COLD water! :)
... and he and Aaron are like soul mates! They definitely hit it off and were in their element the whole day.
I couldn't have asked for a better day full of family, a new friend, and being out on the river! I think I had to remind Aaron that we're moving to Charleston and not staying in Vail, since I'm sure he would be ecstatic if we decided to stay!
After fishing, we headed back to my aunt and uncle's house and Aaron and I cooked dinner for the group! :) While we probably should have eaten all together, Barb and I brought the bar stools into the kitchen and watched the American Idol finale together! We just couldn't manage missing it! :) Then the 6 of us lounged around, chatting and getting our last minutes of hang time in before we all went to bed. It was the perfect way to end our time in Vail with this awesome family.
This morning, Aaron and I woke up to a VERY quite house - Jeff was already at work, Barb was on her way to Omaha for business and Nicole was off to Dallas for a birthday weekend with friends. We stalled, a lot, this morning. I think neither of us really wanted to leave, but alas, the road trip must go on, right?! Next stop is Denver, Colorado! Then on to Kansas City, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo, NY... then possibly up into Canada! :)