When I initially decided to try out travel nursing within the United States, one of the states I originally had in mind was Colorado. While I was in California, I met a few travel nurses who couldn’t stop raving about their experiences in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Thornton, and Lone Tree. Naturally, I hung on to every word, salivating over the thought of three months in Colorado snowboarding and hiking to my heart’s desire.
As some of you may already know, working in Colorado never happened. One, they didn’t have the specific Pediatric Cardiac ICU position that I wanted. Two, I opted to go back to New York, instead.
The goods news is that one of our good friends since high school, Anthony, relocated from Texas to Colorado Springs with his wife, Graz, and two English bulldogs, Syllus & Macy. After syncing schedules with a couple of friends, we finally managed to book our flights, pack our snowboards, hiking boots, and climbing gear for an extended weekend trip.
And can I just say, Colorado did not once disappoint us. It was so easy to fall in love with such a beautiful place, because let me tell you, people do not rave about this state for no reason at all. It lives up to the hype 110%.
It’s no secret the west coast has better snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding. I’ve only gone snowboarding out on the west coast in Lake Tahoe, at Heavenly, a few years ago, and since I was still a beginner, I didn’t remember too much about the snow conditions. I was too focused honing in on my so-called skills.
On our first full day, we opted for Breckenridge, about an hour and a half away up north from Colorado Springs. The weather was beyond gorgeous, the lift tickets were ridiculously expensive, the fresh mountain air smelled of cannabis, and the snow conditions were mind-blowing! It’s everything people describe it to be – soft, dry, and fluffy!
This time around, with a better snowboard and intermediate-expert skills, I was floating on cloud nine, bombing down the slopes. The sun was beaming down so strong, we could have gotten away without our jackets.
Open road sunset drive back to Colorado Springs from Breckenridge.
Our second time snowboarding, we opted for a smaller, cheaper, and more local ski resort south of Colorado Springs at Monarch Mountain. They were running a 2-for-1 deal for those with boarding passes to Colorado Springs so we only paid $35 each, a relief after the whopping $130 price at Breck!
On a Monday, there was virtually no crowd at Monarch, meaning no lines at the ski lifts and lots of room on the slopes. However, at almost 12,000 feet above elevation at the top of the resort, I all of a sudden started feeling dizzy and lightheaded. After a few runs up and down the slopes, I panicked when I could no longer catch my breathe and had to sit down for over an hour to avoid fainting.
ROCK CLIMBING AT GARDEN OF THE GODS
While I was very ecstatic about finally snowboarding in Colorado (I really can’t wait to go next season!), I was also very excited about rock climbing outdoors for the first time, at the Garden of the Gods of all places! I researched climbing companies prior to our trip and found the Front Range Company to be the highest-rated one on Tripadvisor. Their customer service and communication were excellent and our climbing guide, Isaac, exceeded our expectations. It doesn’t take one long enough to know why every reviewer rated them 5-stars.
For three out of the four of us who went climbing that day, this was our first time climbing outdoors. My climbing experiences have all been inside rock gyms at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) and The Cliffs in Long Island City, and I have to say, nothing truly prepares you for outdoor climbing as it’s so different like night and day.
One of the guys I go climbing often with at The Cliffs experienced indoor rock gyms for the first time when he moved here in New York from Texas, and in his own words, it felt “different, a little weird in the beginning“. I finally knew what he meant. In the beginning, I felt so out of my element, my hands were freezing, and even found it to be a little difficult. As the sun started warming up the rock formations and my body temperature, I started feeling more relaxed and started climbing better and better.
On a full-day with Isaac, we covered Potholes, West Point Crack, Cowboy Boot Crack, and Credibility Crack. While we’re generally physically fit and lead active lifestyles, we were all so sore after a long, successful day of climbing. Despite all the food and snacks we consumed all day outdoors, we were starving, looking for the biggest protein meals we could get in town: huge pieces of steak at Mackenzie’s Chop House in downtown Colorado Springs.
Practicing heads stands while waiting our turn to climb up.
HIKING MANITOU INCLINE
While I usually like to sleep in a little bit on my Sundays off when I’m off from work, in Colorado while on vacation, that was not part of the Sunday morning plan. We peeled ourselves off the bed before sunrise, still sore from climbing, and headed out to the Pikes Peak region for a hike.
Nope, we did not look so thrilled in the beginning. It was freezing and we were starving!
Manitou Incline is no ordinary hike as it’s basically a vertical incline gaining over 2000 feet elevation (close to 1 mile), basically one giant stairway straight to heaven. We were put to shame by these teenagers and older people who practically ran up those steps as part of their morning runs while we struggled (read: tried not to die) going up.
Almost to the top…
Half jogging, half admiring the view on our way back down the zigzagging Barr Trail.
AROUND THE COLORADO SPRINGS MILITARY BASE
Our friends happen to live in the military base, so no visit is complete without climbing battle tanks on display!
Many many thanks to Anthony and Graz for hosting us, inviting us to your lovely home and showing us around Colorado. We truly enjoyed every minute of our stay, including those precious moments with Sylus and Macy!