Friday, December 31, 2010

The tops of 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, ending tonight at midnight, I can't help but to reflect back on the past year. While most people make resolutions for their New Year's, I always try to set goals to accomplish by the end of one year. This gives me not only something to look forward too but motivation to work hard for what I want. My husband often times scoff's that my goals are often travel related instead of say, focusing on eliminating debt or working towards another job. Being a flight attendant, however, I can't help but look forward to places I want to see and adventures to take on in the future. Last year a few of my goals included getting another stamp in my passport and climbing 8 14er mountains. Here are a few of the highlights from my 2010 and the obstacles I overcame to achieve my dreams for the year.

1. You better Belize it -

We were supposed to end up in Peru and hike Machu Picchu but an oversold flight and the joys of flying stand-by had us headed to Belize instead. If it's anything this trip taught me is that when you aren't buying a plane ticket you must be flexible in your travel plans. Without a clue as to where we would stay or what we wanted to do when we got there we hopped aboard a Belize bound flight and hoped for the best. My 29th birthday was spent snorkeling with sting rays and eating fresh caught conch kabobs. It was the first trip in my life I've ever taken where nothing was planned out and yet everything worked out. We slept where we wanted, took tours when we wanted and ate without ever consulting a website or lonely planet book. While we still plan on heading back to Peru (hopefully next year) at least we now know that missing a flight doesn't have to be the end of the world and there are hundreds of thousands of excellent travel destinations out there if you're just willing to take the chance to check them out

2. Keep Calm and Hike on -
It may have been 2010 but this was the year of the 14er. At the beginning of last year I set my sights on hiking at least 8 of Colorado's peaks that are over 14,000 feet. My first goal was to hike Gray's and Torrey's because they were close to Denver and we could knock them out in one day with minimal driving effort. I still remember waking up at the crack of dawn and driving up that rutted out dirt road to a make shift parking lot dotted with tents and packed with SUV's. There were groups of people huddled together waiting on friends, decked out in feather weight backpacks and hiking poles. I, in my yoga pants and camel bak felt out of place. "It's only a hike," I thought to myself. "How hard could this really be?"
It took us five hours round trip and 2 days for me to recover but after reaching the summit of both Gray's and Torrey's I was hooked on hiking 14ers. The wind at the top was bitter cold and my thighs have never worked so hard in their lives but the sense of accomplishment I felt had never been greater. I began devouring books about hiking and soon Gerry Roach and became my best friends. When all was said and done I hiked 6 more mountains than my original goal and introduced my friends to the world of hiking, the likes of which they had never seen. I upgraded my boots and attire, purchased a backpack and hiking poles as well as a tent and an assortment of camping supplies. I'm officially hooked and never been happier.

3. Steamboat Surprise -
For my husband's 30th Birthday I wanted to take him someplace where we both had never been. A surprise trip where all his friends could meet us there and enjoy the weekend and celebrate him. Finding a destination that met the criteria of being close, having a variety of activities to entertain us as well as being affordable did present it's own set of challenges. Luckily we live in a beautiful state where weekend getaways aren't hard to come by; so I narrowed it down and chose Steamboat. The weekend of Chad's birthday turned out to also be the perfect time to visit Steamboat. The hot air balloon festival was taking place and, being July, it was warm enough to tube in the river but cold enough at night to make a trip to Strawberry Hot Springs enjoyable. Most all of our close friends were able to attend and best of all Chad was surprised. The town of Steamboat did not disappoint and I can only hope we can return this winter to enjoy the ski slopes as well.

4. Hartman's Rocks Rocks-
Unfortunately the hiking season did not last as long as I would have liked. In mid-October we drove to Gunnison, Colorado in hopes of conquering Wetterhorn. When the weather didn't cooperate we had to find an alternative means to quench my thirst for the outdoors which led us to climbing at Hartman's Rocks. Because Gunnison lays in a valley, you are pretty much guaranteed dry weather even if Crested Butte and beyond are miserable. My brother in-law and friends Meghan and Neil are excellent climbers and Neil had all the gear and knowledge necessary to guide me up an intimidating rock wall. This was my first attempt at climbing in years and the only time I've ever climbed in Colorado. My arms and pecs were sore for 2 weeks after the climb but the experience opened my eyes to a new world of outdoor activities. Neil even gave me some climbing shoes which I vowed to use this winter in an attempt to build up my strength for more difficult 14ers. While I had never intended to climb that weekend, I was once again reminded at how sometimes being flexible in your activity plans can open you up to a whole new world of possibilities

I would say I can't wait to see what 2011 brings me, but in truth I know that it is myself alone who brings good things into my life. You can't just sit around and wait for things to happen you have to make them if you want them. But I've also learned that you can plan all you want in life and it's sometimes life that has other plans for you. Flexibility is key whether it involves your travel plans or yoga. I know 2011 will be yet another year of me trying new things and exploring new places and I know that these experiences will continue to change and improve me. It's only by challenging ourselves that we truly test our limits and it's only by facing what scares us that we see how brave we really are. I plan on doing many things that will frighten me next year but I plan to go into them with an open mind and heart. Odd number years have always been good to me and I'm sure 2011 will be no exception....

Happy New Year's!

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