Washington

Cory and I ended our summer travel with a trip to Washington over Labor Day weekend. This was the first time I had been to the northwest and I really fell in love with it. I mean, it was JUST like Twilight…what’s not to love?
We spent three days crabbing with our family in Sequim, a truly picturesque ocean town. In between crabbing we found some time for other things, like reading, wine tasting and…okay, I’ll be honest. 90% of our time was spent sitting around and eating crab. 

It was an AWESOME vacation that encompassed everything I think a good vacation should: relaxation, new experiences and plenty of quality time with people I love. 
We then spent Labor Day in Seattle, which was cool, but way more 90’s grunge than I expected.

If we’re friends on Facebook, watch for my WA Album – coming this weekend!
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The Poudre

A couple of weeks ago we drove up and explored The Poudre for the first time. What we discovered on this cloudy little Sunday, did not disappoint. Here is my amateur attempt at capturing it in photos:
The drive up the canyon.
I was able to catch this little explorer in action.
Mountain cabin.
My love.
Tubers – A to do on next summer’s list!
One SA-WEET, little camper.
Imagine waking up to this.
Rafters.
Our road trippers.
After spending several hours walking & driving around – there was just so much to explore – we even found a great little bar with an outdoor music venue that we hope to be able to check out soon.
Anyone up for a camping trip?

End of Summer

If you would have told me four months ago that I would be saying this I would have called you crazy, but I’m really looking forward to fall. It’s always been one of my favorite seasons as a Kansas girl, but as a Coloradoan I had been looking forward to the warmth of summer since right around January 1st. So it’s just a little crazy to me that I’m ready for the end of the season. 
Don’t get me wrong, summer in Colorado has been wonderful, and I want to make sure I soak up every last drop of it before I regret lusting for the changing of the leaves. We’ve had such a fun season so far, filled with: bike rides, pool time, BBQs, patios, travel, visitors, breweries, and so much more. But, true to my nature, I’ve conjured up a list of all of the rest of the things that I want to get in before Labor Day. 
End of Summer To Do List:
Stand Up Paddle Board at Horsetooth
Go Camping
Drive In Movie Theater
Read under the shade of a tree at the CSU garden
Go on more picnics
Walk or Bike to CB Pott’s, less than a mile from our place
Boat Horsetooth
What is left on YOUR list for this summer? Carpe Diem!

Our Weekend at Copper

I love weekends that do exactly what they are suppose to: provide you with some fun + time to get caught up on life + leave you refreshed. 
We rented a Ski In/Ski Out condo at Copper Mountain with our friends from home, the Jones, their friends from Denver (who we met in January & are our friends now too!) & their parents. It was a great group & a great time. The conditions on the mountain were perfect – powdery on Friday & sunny on Saturday –  we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

This weekend just made me really thankful & I’ve listed a couple of the things that were top of mind for me on the mountains:

#1 – I am so blessed to have Cory as my husband. He is patient & kind & amazing. : ) I’m so, so thankful to be able to share our life & adventures together.
#2 – I’m thankful for the relationships I have as a 26 year old – no drama, no unruly expectations or pressure – just the ability to be who we are & share experiences with each other.
#3 – I’m grateful for the lessons learned along the way that helped get me where I am today. (That rhymed – not intentional!)
#4 – I am so thankful to live in Fort Collins, which is a short drive to the mountains where I can practice the sport I began enjoying almost 15 years ago.

I hope you had a great weekend too!

Loveland

This week Cory & I went snowboarding for the first time as Colorado residents. 
The first time I hit the slopes was in middle school with my youth group, as a skier. It was so much fun – even though we were terrible. I laughed so hard that I cried…and maybe more. : )
After that initial experience, I switched over to snowboarding, which I found much easier & liked even more.  
When I met Cory in high school, we began going yearly or so with our group of friends & continued that during college. Cory even took a job at Wichita’s only ski shop, The Slope (which was helpful when it came time to gear up & buy own own boards & other equipment). After we got engaged, we traveled to Montana & snowboarded together on a small mountain there, which was so much fun!
However, as many times as I’ve been (which really isn’t much – but enough to build on skills), I was never able to conquer my toe edge. 
But that all changed this week. I, Audra Dinell, FINALLY have a toe edge under my belt. Now it’s not strong, but it’s there. And all thanks to my sweet, patient husband who knew just what to say to coach me. 
So even though the forecast looked a bit blizzardous (that may not be a word, but I think it should be), we loaded up & headed out.  
Neither of us had been boarding in Loveland before and we were pleasantly surprised at how snug & cozy it was.
Although it was FREEZING – we had a blast!
Of course, we warmed up by stopping by the ski bar before we drove home. Spiked warm drinks are my favorite!
This month we plan on hitting up Eldora, our closest mountain. Photos to come! 

This Season of Life

Yesterday in church the pastor mentioned that he was in a full, happy, loud and crazy season of his life, raising four boys between the ages of 3-10 with his wife. This got me to thinking about the season of life that I am currently in, just having moved out of state with my husband of 2.5 years for a big adventure.
Those who know me well, know that I have always been a girl with a lot going on. Starting all the way back in elementary school and continuing to increase to a peak in high school, I was involved in multiple extra curricular activities at once. 
 Dance, girl scouts, cheerleading, youth group, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, competitive cheerleading, national honors society, student council, etc.

(Here I am in high school with some fellow Varsity Cheer Team members. I still keep in touch w/Julie, to the left of me, and consider her a very good friend!)

Being the little over-achiever that I was, burn out was inevitable. When I started college at KU, I joined a sorority & participated in intramural sports, but that was about it. The rest of my time was spent w/my friends & occasionally studying/going to class.  

(My freshman dorms roommate, Jayde & I at a football game. Still one of my best friends to this day, distance & all!)

When I transferred to Wichita State, I worked and went to school. Nothing more. Nothing less. I went through a stage where I didn’t put much effort into anything that I cared about, except for hanging out with my friends.

(Out for my 21st birthday w/Chelsey & Kate, friends from high school that I still adore.)

So post-college, I was eager to jump back in. And jump back in, I did. I jumped into anything & everything that peaked my interest or would help me further myself as a professional. The adult version of me sought balance for my life (instead of going through another burn out, like the college version of me did).

My recent move gave me an opportunity to step back and evaluate what is truly important to me. 

For me, busy is now a bad word. Is my life full? Yes, it is so full. Full of many things including new experiences, being active, cooking, spending time with my husband & puppies, my career, reading and blogging. It’s full of getting in touch w/myself, my goals & dreams. And of course my life is full of exploring my city that I love more & more each day.

But I have room too. Room to grow, room to meet new people & discover new activities. I’ve become protective of who I let in my life & have been even more protective of my time.

(In Denver last week after checking out a wine bar called Cru.)

One of these days Cory & I will have some little babies and life will get loud and crazy again. And while we both look forward to that time, we are also cherishing the slowness & sweetness of the life that we’re making for ourselves here in Fort Collins.

Hello Estes Park!

We’ve been living in Colorado for about a month now, and with the gorgeous weather this weekend, we finally got a chance to check out Estes Park. 
All the Northern Coloradans rave about the city – the amazing mountain views on the drive up, the way the quaint town comes alive in season (May-Sept.) & the array of outdoor activities that can be done in Rocky Mountain National Park (hiking, snowshoeing, fly fishing, etc.). Plus, this weekend the city was having it’s Winter Festival, so it was perfect timing. 
So after a yummy breakfast (can I just say that it is SO nice to have Cory home – he was training in Denver all last week), we loaded up the dogs & our “gear” (my camera, some Nalgene bottles & the iPad – just in case) & headed out about 9:30. 
I wish I would have been able to get pictures of  the views driving up winding roads in the vast & vibrant mountains that are scattered with cute little cabins. Those were some of the most beautiful of the day.
We got to Rocky Mountain Park & let the dogs explore. 
Then we explored the little town.
A local artist’s work displayed in a shop on the main drag. Go Prius!
Our last stop – lunch at the bar!
It was the perfect morning/early afternoon. We can’t wait to go back when it’s a little warmer & enjoy some outdoor activities in the national park + experience Estes “in season.”
Happy Saturday to You!