Camping- The Magic Land in the Backyard

Allergen-free eating on the road, colorado, Colorado Events, musings, Travel

First I should say we don’t actually have a backyard. BUT we are only an hour and a half away from one of the most famous and well loved National Parks in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park.

2015 marked 100 years of Rocky Mtn. being a National Park, and over 100 years of tourists coming to marvel at its glorious mountains, wildlife and plants! It also was the first time I ever explored the park. That is not to say I haven’t spent a fair amount of time outdoors and in National Parks, but I had never actually made it to Rocky. Even though I lived so close!

My first encounter was in August with my parent’s for a quick drive around the park. In summer glory it was just warm enough and everything was very green and vibrant. There was also thousands and thousands of tourists, as the park has grown in popularity over the past few years, with 2015 having over 4 million people! That’s impressive considering just a decade ago they had half as many. If you want to look at more nerdy stats, go here.

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This massive amount of people made it hard to see everything and park and get through the gift shop etc. etc. It was still really neat to see and I’m glad we went. This also meant that we came out on the Western side of the state, something I had never done. This means a drive through more mountains and getting home late, but it was well worth the adventure.

Fast-forward two months and the lovely cool of Autumn is upon us. I decided to pack up the family and go camping in Rocky for the last weekend of the camping season at Moraine Park. It was also Elk rutting season!

What is Elk-Rutting you might ask? When all the male elks and their harems get it on and Males fight over females, as big dumb animals do. They are also really elegant animals, that have captivated people for eons. Their mating call also sounds like that of some alien species…the native americans used to think of them as spirits. Regardless, it actually makes for crap sleep, but beautiful photos.

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The camping part was an absolute blast, it was the first time Lily, my 8-year-old stepdaughter had been tent camping. She camps with her grandparent’s frequently but they have a camper on their truck and us mountain girls call that cheating ;).

Lily loves helping set up the tent, and using new camping gear we bought such as little camp pots and a foam mattress pad, queen size, for us to all snuggle onto. We used a combination of a gas camp stove and a fire for marshmallows, hot dog, vegan dogs for me, oatmeal, sandwiches, and a variety of chips and such to snack on.

Lily got the cool honor of getting to fill out a packet and search for animals through the 24-hours we were there. She saw deer, chipmunks, elk, squirrels, some rabbits and plenty of plant life to keep her busy and occupied. The best part was that we had no service so it was an unplugged weekend to talk, laugh, do some photography, and enjoy the little things.

We also drove to the top of the mountain to see all we could see….at the Alpine Visitor Center. Where we hiked up to 12,005 feet and it almost killed us….

The views on the drive were truly spectacular and Lily loved the chance when we stopped to run around and be blown away at the vastness of the world in front of us! Ryan almost had a heartattack. After almost 5 years together, I learned on that trip he had a hatred of heights.

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The biggest struggle was getting the campfire going, because I had a stupid attack and we didn’t pack enough kindling and paper to get it hot. WHOOPS… luckily someone else was there selling wood and kindling so we got to enjoy our fire pit eventually.2015-10-03 19.13.33

For a simple 24-hour getaway we got a lot out of the adventure. We problem solved, we laughed, we had fun, and we learned new things about each other and the world around us. For $50 I bought an annual pass, and we can’t wait to go back. The campground was $18 for the night. A few souvenirs and coffee was another $25 or so, but the photos and memories were priceless.

Get out and explore!

 

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Book Lover’s Guide to Traveling

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Old Firehouse Books

I often travel alone, so that means that I often have extra time to read in airports, bus stations, hotels, and for my own break from the world.

However, my love of books can become a hazard to “packing light” so I have made it a habit to take less and get more if I need to. Which works the best. I mean how good is it to run out of reading material? Okay it depends who you are, but for busy me, it feels good to finish a book and have to find my next read!

PACK LIGHT- if you don’t know how much downtown you will have, less is more. Meaning, pack one or two reads, and call it a day. Chances are, as I’ve experienced, you’ll be lucky to get through one of them. Let alone 2. If you are gone for more than a week or…

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To Hell and Back

Caribbean, Cruising, Travel

In Grand Cayman there is this cool little spot in the middle of the main island called Hell.

Hell is a funky bunch of rock formations that are limestone which have been worn down into their funky shapes through biological erosion. Algae is one of the main culprits and its acidity have worn into these crazy spires and formations that look…well if there is a Hell, what it must look like. Read more on the geology here.

If you are mostly interested in something different to see, most tours stop here on the way to or from other locations. And it makes for some cool photo opportunities and a look at some of the unique geology that makes up the Caribbean islands.

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The final tip, and the only time I’ll tell you to bring your passport out of a safe or safe place, is to bring it to Hell and have it stamped at the little shop! Then you have the proof of having been to Hell and back!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Coolest Thing I Did last year

Caribbean, Cruising, Travel

Okay, actually I did a lot of really great stuff last year! REALLY cool stuff. But one of them, that is by far one of the most unique experiences I have ever had is going to a Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman while Ryan and I were on our cruise! For about $60 each we got an AMAZING adventure!

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The Grand Cayman Turtle Farm was established in 1968 as a way to not only help restore the depleted turtle population of Grand Cayman, which had been run down in the early 1800s but also provide educational resources for those already in Grand Cayman and those that visit the island.

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Look at those babies! (I was warned not to sneak any home)

They also use some of the turtles for meat, which is the national dish of Grand Cayman. Ryan and I did not eat any turtles in the making of this vacation. Learn more here.

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Ryan got into it too!

The great part, and the reason we signed up for the tour was that it provided a unique experience of getting to see baby turtles and also getting into tanks to swim with them and hold them. SCORE for this animal lover! Beyond that I found out they release 1/3 of the turtles born back into the wild, which means that my money for that tour was going to helping the fragile sea ecosystem. It was a win-win for me, and Ryan was excited to do something with water.

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However, what really blew us away was that not only did the venue have thousands of turtles of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, they also provided really nice breeding environment and plenty of well-educated and animal loving people to make the project work! Not only that but they had a lot of other wildlife experiences. They had a massive tank with shark and barracuda in them, which Ryan loved. Then they had a saltwater swimming area where you could actually swim with turtles!

AND I would have been in there for the whole time if my bikini top had not given up and broke BEFORE the tour even began….luckily I was wearing a t-shirt. I did not have anything for backup and we were too far from the boat to go back…

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Beyond the water adventures they had a beautiful large aviary with a bunch of local birds that were quite a delight to see and experience! And to finish the adventure they had a nursery full of 2-day-old baby turtles! *squee*

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Finally, Ryan finished our time by taking a trip down their water slide at their fresh water pool and then we were on our way to hell….

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They had wild Iguanas everywhere! They were sooo cool!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Easter for under $20

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Budgeting Becca

Easter is Sunday and if you have not prepared for the easter bunny, then there is still time to do it well and do it cheap. One option is that Toys “R” Us has pre-made baskets for $15-20 and those are a simple and easy option for a handful of toys and some candy.

If you want something unique and put together for your unique child I suggest hitting the Dollar Tree and the grocery store today and tomorrow for the best deals.

The Dollar Tree has baskets, candy, and more for $1 each or less and if you put on your creative cap you can put together a great and fun basket for your little ones!

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For about $11 I bought all of this at the Dollar Store, except for the My Little Pony figures that I got on clearance from the grocery store for $6.50 for the both of them…

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secrets of booksellers (shhh don’t tell)

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Old Firehouse Books

In some ways we seem like experts on books, us little booksellers here at Old Firehouse. Some of us are better than others, some read more than others, some have their sole section, others jump around the store. So in ways we may know a lot, and other ways a little, but I guarantee we all know something about a thing or two. So even though we know, we also have weird moments and habits much like the rest of you.

1. We have a hard time knowing what to read next. 

Yes we have plenty of books to choose from at any given moment, yet we have MOODS when we really want to read something but can’t find the fit… or want to read twenty things all at the same time. We often have too many choices all around, too many things to read at home, on our hold…

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Universal Studios for the Potterhead

Florida, Travel

Old Firehouse Books

2015-10-24 07.12.02-1 (1) I was up at 6am! and yes that is a Marauder’s map dress!

This October I had the fantabulous experience of getting to go to Universal Studios Orlando!

2015-10-24 08.12.10 HDR-2 My baby sister and I were pretty stoked!

AND OF COURSE I WENT TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!

Because you can’t have a potter tattoo and not go if you are in Orlando, let alone the theme park.

Also, 8 year old me desperately need to go be an 8-year-old in a theme park and 11-year-old me wanted to live the potter books and movies, and buy my wand, and get sorted, and try butter beer, and act like a spaz about the Hogwarts Express.

2015-10-24 09.34.33 HDR-2 The Knight Bus starts the journey to Diagon Alley

We spent like 75% of the day in “Harry Potter World” which is split between a “Diagon Alley” and a “Hogsmeade” and in two separate parks…

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25 years of books

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Old Firehouse Books

On Tuesday I turned 25…which seemed just like an ordinary day…because let’s be honest, the older that we get, the more normal birthdays seem. It’s another year older, another year of analyzing one’s life, another year of books.

That last part is the fun part.

Because over 25 years of existence reading has been the constant tale.

Pardon the pun.

Because there are a lot of things I have tried and given up on in 25 years, but books are a constant. I gave up piano, dance, ballet, flute, drums, bass, choir, musicals, theater etc. But books, they’ve been my thing forever.

The excitement of reading and finishing a novel. The joy of knowledge from a non-fiction. The excitement of a new releases, or an antique copy of a favorite.

All around I love books and I know I always will, they’re like an old friend, a pet, something that…

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Irish Novel Reading List

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Old Firehouse Books

It’s St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday and in case you want a snugly book to celebrate the Irish we have a list for you!

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Anything James Joyce

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Ulysses may look scary, so start with Dubliners and work your way to it. You won’t regret it. Araby will always be one of my favorite short stories!

Colum McCann, the modern Irish

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Can I get away with calling him a modern James Joyce? He’s an Irish voice that resided overseas and writes hauntingly beautiful stories. I highly recommend Transatlantic for an exploration of the Irish Diaspora (He’s also very charmer and kind and I have a little crush on him from meeting him in 2014….) Also the Irish are shameless flirts…. and don’t you deny it Irish men. =P

Oscar Wilde, the Londoner

Let me say I am very WILDE about OSCAR.

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Forgive my bad pun, but this guy’s Irish wit…

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Tough Decisions in Pursuing a Dream

musings, Uncategorized

I recently made the hard choice to leave a job that I had bled into for four years.

The decision was a sudden one, but one that I needed to pursue, even if it meant that I wouldn’t have my same comfort level. I don’t write this to bash anyone, but rather to say, it’s okay to give up on something that just isn’t working.

The job wasn’t working. At all. It was a constant conflict of ideas and visions and there was poor communication on how to do anything, let alone function on a basic level. That was true for me, and the business.

It just got worse and worse. And before I knew it I was crying at work. Crying at work and telling people how miserable I was.

This is when I knew I needed to give it up, but I had nothing else lined up. But as a pressure cooker with no one watching and checking on the meal, it all exploded and I resigned from my job.

I quit my job without two weeks notice, or getting a letter of reference, or having anything to fall back on. I admitted failure and walked away.

Yet, even though this “failure” is a story in my career, it’s not the end of my ability to thrive, pursue and be.

Since officially resigning on Saturday I have actually started to put my life together in a way I haven’t been able to for almost a year. That’s a huge for me.

I’m actually getting my house cleaned and organized. I’ve applied for many jobs and have two interviews in the next week. I’ll be taking on more hours and duties for my other side job and hopefully be able to branch out from there. I took a leap of faith and I’m finding myself in the process.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will hold, but I’m much happier not feeling miserable every day. I’m much more confident than I’ve been in months. And I’m pursuing creative endeavors I haven’t felt like pursuing in a very long time. My creative energy isn’t being drained into something that is strangling me at the same time. I have creative juices. I can write a personal blog, something I haven’t done in months.

Anyway, you get the idea. My point is, sometimes risking everything is the best way to get somewhere. Don’t let life scare you into bed and away from the world. Don’t let life kill you from the inside out. Wise words: Be Brave

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Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson