Snowshoeing in the Rockies

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I had never snowshoed before. Yet... I found myself standing in REI, staring at a whole wall of snowshoes, calculating the likelihood of getting lost in the woods during the snowy winter. I geared up, rented a pair of snowshoes, and packed up the car for an early morning drive up into Rocky Mountain National Park. My goal in 2017 was to spend more time outside, and I was going to follow through on that resolution.

With a 4am wakeup, my drive up to the park was quiet, with the sky slowly changing from a midnight black to a pale purple. Right as I rounded the corner into Estes Park and saw the Front Range, the sky lightened up to shades of pink and purple that made the mountains look incredible.

Once I was in the park, I drove up the fun windy road that leads to Bear Lake. The sun was starting to rise higher so I strapped on my snowshoes, took a couple of test steps, then decided to quickly check out Bear Lake before heading up to Dream Lake. I was rewarded with some great views and a few hikers in my photos.

The path up to Dream Lake was pretty interesting. For a first time snowshoer, it felt like I had to watch the past footprints in the snow carefully to make sure I was heading in the right general direction. There are virtually no other people on the trails before 9am, so I had the luxury of a whole forest to myself - and a few accidental detours along the way.

Dream Lake was gusty but beautiful once I reached its edge. The mountains capped in snow really make for a striking sight.

A leisurely drive down the winding roads of the mountains and a good playlist were the cherries on top of a perfect morning. On the way down, I had to keep stopping to take photos of the scenery.

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A Week in Belize

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I recently went on a long-overdue vacation and we picked Belize based on a set of criteria that our vacation had to satisfy (very product manager of me, I know): 

  1. Easy access to beach for relaxing and reading (check - with waiters that bring you drinks!)
  2. A few different activities we could do (check - Belize had snorkeling, caves, Mayan ruins, the works)
  3. Not overcrowded by tourists (check)
  4. Less than a day of travel time (check - Denver to Belize was ~6hrs)

If you've never been, put it on your to-do list now. Belize had the best snorkeling I've ever experienced, mild weather and the kind of friendly locals that come with a country not yet jaded by overtourism. 

We stayed at a resort on Ambergris Caye (their most popular island) called Matachica, and by the end of the trip I was ready to drop some serious cash to buy my bungalow and live there forever. John McAfee bought a house just down the beach from us, so I could do it too...

Matachica was an idyllic resort that consisted of little bungalows like this one. Many of them are right on the beach, including mine. Watching the sun set from my teal bungalow (which also included its own private hot tub) was unreal. 

Matachica was an idyllic resort that consisted of little bungalows like this one. Many of them are right on the beach, including mine. Watching the sun set from my teal bungalow (which also included its own private hot tub) was unreal. 

The view from the deck of my bungalow. I also enjoyed all the plant life in Belize, and decided to include this leafy guy in my shot because he/she deserved it.

The view from the deck of my bungalow. I also enjoyed all the plant life in Belize, and decided to include this leafy guy in my shot because he/she deserved it.

Comfortable sandy beaches. Belize had none of those jagged rocks that will stab you in the foot when you make the mistake of thinking it's safe to walk on sand. Nope, I walked barefoot around the resort all week.

Comfortable sandy beaches. Belize had none of those jagged rocks that will stab you in the foot when you make the mistake of thinking it's safe to walk on sand. Nope, I walked barefoot around the resort all week.

After lying comatose on a cabana for a few days, I regained the energy to start exploring the country. Most people living along the beach commuted by boat, so we hopped on one and walked around the town of San Pedro. 

The shops of Belize were saturated with color. This teal shopfront was my favorite - the color of the ocean just a block away. I wish I had tried some Belizean Chinese food because there's a large Chinese population here.

The shops of Belize were saturated with color. This teal shopfront was my favorite - the color of the ocean just a block away. I wish I had tried some Belizean Chinese food because there's a large Chinese population here.

Beautiful seashells lining the alley.

Beautiful seashells lining the alley.

This purple was also quite pleasing to the eye.

This purple was also quite pleasing to the eye.

Golf carts are the primary mode of transportation around San Pedro. They're fun to drive and easy to rent for a day. This town probably has the lowest ratio of golf players to golf carts. 

Golf carts are the primary mode of transportation around San Pedro. They're fun to drive and easy to rent for a day. This town probably has the lowest ratio of golf players to golf carts. 

Unfortunately the computer repair shop was closed, so I couldn't go in and check out all the gadgets. 

Unfortunately the computer repair shop was closed, so I couldn't go in and check out all the gadgets. 

Again with the foliage. Belize had some voluminous plants.

Again with the foliage. Belize had some voluminous plants.

We also went inland to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai, which means "submerged crocodile." We took a boat on the New River to get there, and along the way stopped to see various animals (including a baby crocodile).

These birds were fowl.

These birds were fowl.

A boat driver enjoying the cool waters while waiting for his next batch of riders.

A boat driver enjoying the cool waters while waiting for his next batch of riders.

Reflections along the New River.

Reflections along the New River.

When day 8 came, I wasn't ready to go back to the real world - so I stayed and opened a dive shop. 

Just kidding. I went back to snowy Colorado and am biding my time until my next international adventure. Here are some sunsets to end the post, as well as serve as some beautiful eye candy.

Some cotton candy pinks and purples one night...

Some cotton candy pinks and purples one night...

Thanks for reading my first photojournal in a very long time - hoping to write a few more of these in 2017. Single-post mediums just can't do a place justice sometimes. If you enjoyed this, please like it and/or share.