Frisco, Colorado Day 4: Reflecting on the Trip

How does one spend the last day of a ski trip? Ripping it, of course. My dad, grandfather, uncle, cousin and I headed to Keystone Mountain Sunday morning with much excitement due to the bright blue skies and sun shining over us.

If we could have combined Sunday’s weather with the snow conditions of the other days, it would have been absolutely perfect. Regardless, Sunday was a beautiful end to an exciting trip. The first half of the day consisted of all of us shredding together, and then my uncle and cousin left me, my grandfather, and dad to do the job—and we definitely got it done! To my surprise, we stayed on the mountain almost as late as we could to take advantage of every run we could.

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Only if this trail was called “Abbey Road”

As I have said, this ski trip has been an extraordinary one. We lucked out with fresh snow three of the four days and the temperatures stayed high enough so I did not freeze my fingers off.

Secondly, I am super proud of my improvement. My dad joked that my new ski outfit contributed to my better form, but to be honest, my new ski goggles gave me way more visibility than my old ones, which upped my confidence and pushed me to not shy away from quick turns down steeper terrain. Nothing feels better than my uncle asking, “When doesn’t she kill it?” and me genuinely feeling proud of myself.

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Me excitedly skiing down the mountain

Finally, as I have mentioned, it was so special being with my family over the last few days. Goofing off with them made the days light, but also made me want to show off what I can do a bit more. Nothing beats being in a competition with my uncle to see who can spray the other one more with snow, singing Taylor Swift as my dad simultaneously sings classic rock on the chairlift or being pleasantly surprised when my “mini-me” cousin flashes a “thumbs up,” something I often do, for a photo together.

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Mini me and I

This ski trip was different. It was more relaxed, but somehow more fulfilling. I will miss hearing man-made avalanches in the distance, seeing my dad carve a line around me and feeling like I am on top of the world as I gawk at the mountain peaks surrounding me. I may be done on the slopes for a while, but I cannot wait to get back on them next winter!

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Frisco, Colorado Day 3: Family Fun

Day three of skiing brought more amazing conditions, but best of all, it brought my family! I was super thrilled to be on the mountain Saturday with not just my father and grandfather, but also my aunt, uncle and two cousins who are Colorado natives.

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Whitman family ski trip!

The day was bound to be interesting because my whole family is not all at the same level of skiing, so there was some pace-adjusting to do. The morning actually went by quickly despite how relaxed it was. We had an early lunch, and then the rest of my family left the mountain to watch the Eagles’ playoff game at the lodge.

 

So then there was two. Although I was super excited to ski with my whole family, there is nothing like some daddy-daughter skiing. To make up for the slow morning, I firmly suggested that my dad and I take the T-bar up to the bowl of the mountain, the highest point that surpasses the tree line. A T-bar is a lift that two people rest their behinds on as they grab onto the cable and get pulled up the hill, skis on the ground. My father was quite skeptical about this because he thought it would be too cold and snowless up there. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find untouched powder and a wide open mountain peak for us to explore. He enjoyed it so much that he opted to do it again! This is the type of skiing that left my thighs burning and my heart racing.

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Selfie at the peak of the mountain with Dad!

From a family-filled, slow morning to a fast-paced afternoon with just my dad, Saturday ended up being an incredible day at Breckenridge Resort. To make it better, I caught half the Eagle’s game with my family at the lodge, where we animatedly cheered them on around the television. I do have to admit that Taylor Swift played in the car on the way to and from the mountain, and I’m not confident that the fresh snow, comfortable temperatures and Eagles winning was all just a coincidence. I suppose I can leave that open for interpretation.

 

 

 

 

Frisco, Colorado Day 2: Skiing in a Snow Globe

Day two of skiing gave some of the best conditions I’ve had (I definitely said that last year). Similarly to my second day of skiing at Park City, I thoroughly enjoyed my second day in Colorado at Keystone Mountain.

I walked outside Thursday morning surprised to see about five inches of snow on the ground and snow still generously falling from the sky. We arrived at Keystone and the snow was still coming down, but that just made us excited to have some fresh snow to disturb. I am laughing at myself because last year I dreaded skiing in the snow, but this year, I actually quite enjoyed it. This is probably because the temperature was in the twenties, which is ideal for someone who gets cold easily like myself.

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Outside our room Thursday morning

Thursday I felt like I was skiing in a snow globe. The sky was a mix of dark and light gray clouds, sometimes with a hint of sun that gave an idea of the outside world. Frankly, I could not have cared less about the outside world as I was followed my dad down the mountain with my Pop Pop trailing behind. I could stay in my snow globe all day.

Although we would of course prefer blue skies, which we did get for a bit in the afternoon, there were no complaints with the fresh snow which was giving us excellent skiing conditions. The peaks of the mountain were a bit windy, but as we moved further down the trails, the winds subsided.

We normally try to explore the whole mountain, but we found a solid group of trails off the same ski lift, and could not believe it when we realized it was already lunch time. Now that is the purest example of time flying when having fun! After a delicious barbecue lunch, we stuck to another area, which we had skied in previous years that had excellent runs for us as well.

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In my snow globe 

My version of an excellent run is one that is wide, so it does not make me feel cramped and that does not have an overwhelming amount of people on it. I like a trail with loose snow, but nothing so deep that I sink into it, with a downhill vertical that will work my thighs and leave me at a loss of breath. Thankfully, I experienced a bunch of trails that gave me just that.

Keystone treated us well, and the forecast for the next two days is promising. To wrap the second day post the same way as last year, I will leave by saying this: “Today is how a day on the mountain should be: fun and fast!”

Frisco, Colorado Day 1: Fluffy Snow with a Hint of Sun

When my father and I went to Park City last year, we stayed at one resort the whole time. However, in Frisco, Colorado, we do quite the opposite. In fact, we do not even ski in Frisco. We just stay here at the sweetest little inn called the Frisco Lodge.

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A photo of me outside our lodge my freshman year of college

When in Colorado, we go to different ski resorts; usually a different one every day. Thursday took us to a new place at which we have never skied: Beaver Creek. Besides a little bit of uncertainty in the morning that comes with going to a new mountain (where to park, where the trails lead, etc.), we had a phenomenal first day on the slopes.

We normally go on this trip a week earlier than we did, but luckily, it was delayed this year. I say we were lucky because apparently there was not too much snow at Beaver Creek a week ago, and the beautiful, light, fluffy snow we conquered Monday was brand new. We went on a variety of trails, from easy groomers to steep and uneven terrain. We found a cluster of trails that we really enjoyed and took advantage of during the middle of the day.

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Some blue sky at the base of Beaver Creek

Besides the great snow conditions, the weather was fantastic. In the low 20s, the mountain was not too chilly when in the sunlight. I get cold quite easily, so I was mentally preparing myself to freeze before we even headed to the mountain. There were bright blue skies visible between the clouds, and that is always an uplifting and energizing sight to see while skiing.

However, the best part of the day was when my father told me he had to do a double-take on me because he said my form was so good, he at first did not realize it was me coming down the trail. What a fantastic compliment to start off a fun four days of skiing!

Oz: Classes are over, now I Holiday

My crunch time has officially been crunched. After diligently working on projects, presentations and papers, my two weeks of jamming assignments in is over and I am about to leave for a final holiday. I never expected to say this, but I am heading for Thailand!

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Planning this trip was not easy, as I ran into many road blocks trying to please my friends while scavenging for budget-friendly activities that had enough availability. After dealing with indecisive and fickle people, multiple trips and emails to a lovely STA agent and numerous rant sessions, I have planned a trip for Brian, Sierra and I in Bangkok and its surrounding area. This is the first time I have ever been in charge of and fully planned a trip to a country that does not speak English, and nervous does not begin to explain how I feel. However, as I have been reminding myself, everything happens for a reason and it will all somehow work out.

The next time I post, I will be back from Thailand, hopefully with a positive review. Cheers!

Oz: Something Special

I switched from having the best week of classes to having the most uneventful week of classes. The only thing I did all week that was not related to conquering my homework or to-do list was watch a British television show with some mates that were accompanied by some delicious onion rings and a game of Uno. However, this is a special week and it will be followed by an even more special week. As I am typing this, my best friend and my world travelling buddy, my Pop Pop, is on his way to Australia!

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It just seems like months ago I was planning this abroad semester and had the hope that Pop Pop would be able to come visit. Well, it was not easy to get him here, and after thinking he would not be able to visit at all, we broke through the ice and planned a trip to Sydney and New Zealand. And by “we,” I mean he planned it and I simply put in my feedback. Pop Pop is a professional trip planner, and I am glad I got to see him work his magic one more time.

If we had endless time and money, Pop Pop knows I would be flying all over the world with him until we saw every last place on Earth.

I am beyond thankful that I have another opportunity to travel with this incredible man. From Paris in sixth grade and Italy and Spain in high school, to our European adventure last year, I have seen so much of the world all thanks to Pop Pop. He is so special to me and so selfless. It brings tears to my eyes that I get another chance to explore a new place with him.

This is probably going to be our last international trip together, as heartbreaking as that is for me. If we had endless time and money, Pop Pop knows I would be flying all over the world with him until we saw every last place on Earth.

I so look forward to seeing him Friday and making our trip just as marvelous as our last. I truly hope Pop Pop realizes how special he is to me and how thankful I am I get to do this with him. I also would not be able to do it without my grandma for letting him go, because she thinks we are crazy for all these travels (Thank you Grandma).

The next time I write, I will be on the East coast!  Here’s to my next adventure!

Oz: Rottnest Island Day 2

I woke up to quokkas and peacocks outside my door on Sunday. What a way to start my morning!

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For those who do not know what a quokka is (I did not until I got to Oz), a quokka, in my own definition, is a mixture between a rabbit (because it hops and of its size) and a rat (its body and tail). The island literally got its name from these cute critters with its name meaning “rat’s nest.” Rottnest has successfully marketed quokkas, which only inhabit a few islands off of Perth, as selfie attractions. It took some time, but I got some selfies along with a few kisses.

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Nicole, Sierra, Barry and I biked almost the whole island again Sunday, but it was definitely a more relaxing ride. We stopped at a series of bays, including Parakeet, Little Armstrong, City of York and Stark. We ended the day sitting on a bench in the shade, watching people wipe out on the blow-up course in the water.

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We cut through the middle of the island on the way back to base. To my surprise, we came across a pink lake! I am so happy I finally got to see one up close. In person, it is really just loads and loads of salt that turns into an icy pink color, that eventually mixes with the water. It was an exciting sight to see!

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Rottnest definitely treated me well, and I could not believe that the picturesque piece of land was so close to where I live. With its crystal clear waters and cliffs that lend a phenomenal view, this is a special place that the people of Western Australia are lucky to have.

The perfect weekend turned into the best week of classes yet and was followed by yet another perfect weekend. I could not be more thankful.

Oz: Rottnest Island Day 1

Rottnest Island, or what I like to call a little slice of paradise, is located about 20 kilometers off of Perth and is a huge attraction to the inhabitants of the region. I was lucky enough to spend my weekend at the beautiful playground.

I hopped off the ferry around 10 a.m. on Saturday and was given a bike and helmet. From there, I was left to find my way around the island with Nicole, Barry and Sierra. We really had no idea where we were going, where our accommodation was or what to expect. Barry and I grabbed a map, talked to an information lady and we were on our way.

We were encouraged to visit the West End, which is a piece of land jutting out on the western side of the island and boasts magnificent views of the sea. It was a long trek, and unfortunately Barry and I lost Sierra and Nicole along the way. However, once we finally reached our destination, we were able to relax by eating lunch and taking in the beautiful scenery.

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My view for lunch

Barry and I spent the rest of the day checking our different spots along the coast, such as Strickland Bay, which offers phenomenal surfing and the Wadejemup Lighthouse. The lighthouse is perched on the tallest point of the island, and views of Fremantle and Perth can be seen from it.

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Wadjemup Lighthouse

We returned to Thompson Bay to check into our accommodation, which is done at the information center, and grab some food. I was excited to munch on my very first meat pie, which is a popular food in Australia. I was definitely not disappointed. We then biked a bit to explore one of the nearby beaches and watch the sun give way to night.

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Barry and I finally found our accommodation, which was the Kingstown Barracks, a converted military base. We finished the night by mingling with Nicole, Sierra and a few others at the Rottnest Hotel, which is a hotel and bar with live music and good eats.

It was a great first day, having biked over 25 kilometers and checking out the whole island. I looked forward to the next day, however, which would be a more leisurely.

 

 

 

Oz: Back from the Outback

I have returned to Perth from the outback! It has been quite some time since I last posted, and that is solely due to the fact that I was embarking on a 10-day-turned-nine outback camping trip in Northwest Australia. I have so much to say about the trip, but I have to type it up first, since I was not able to bring my lap top. I project that I will post about my adventure in the later half of the year when my travels have calmed. Below is a quick preview of the magnificence that I witnessed.

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Circular Pool at Karijini National Park

The trip was shortened by a day due to a cyclone that rained on us for three days straight, causing Karijini National Park to close and for us to miss out on a day of hiking and a few points of interest. We also were lead to an upset in Coral Bay, where those who paid almost $400 to swim with whale sharks and those who paid $165 to swim with manta rays did not even get to see one. This was due to the coral spawn and the windy weather, which turned the marine beauties away and made it difficult to spot them.

The camping journey was definitely a bit unlucky, but I did have a swell time exploring the massive amount of land Australia has. I was absolutely astounded by the amount of nothingness in WA, and I really appreciated it as well.

Classes have started up again, and my mind is a swirling mess of due dates and facts being crammed in last minute for exams. It was nice to have a break from school after only three weeks of classes, but it definitely did not help with my motivation. Luckily, I only have another three weeks of classes until my next weeklong break and arrival of Pop Pop!

Oz: Second Week of Classes

Somehow I have already completed my second week of school here at Murdoch.

I am definitely adjusting to the new style of classes and am much less stressed than last week. I actually switched from my indigenous studies course to a photography course. I did this because neither course will count towards my degree, and I can do much more with some extra photography skills than historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in the history of the indigenous people to Western Australia, I just thought that photography would be much less stressful. This is the first time I have ever switched classes. Usually I would make myself stay, but I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible here.

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Beaching and studying

Monday night was by far the best night of the week, and most definitely the best night of my time here in Australia so far. Tuesday was awesome because after class I went to a time management workshop. Although I am pretty good with organizing my life, I figured the small workshop could pump up my motivation. Following that was Italian Night put on by the village, and I was fortunate enough to indulge in delicious pasta carbonara with bacon, spinach and mushroom. I wish I took a photo!

Wednesday was another night at Newport in Freo. I had respectfully declined the last two times my friends went out, so I promised them I would. I actually had a fantastic time and it made me look forward to going out again, whenever that will be. Nightlife is not always my scene, but I can always have a really good time dancing the night away.

Finally, Thursday was a low-key day of class and catching up on various things such as ordering an external hard drive and filling out an academic application. I rewarded myself for getting through another week by working out twice and having a huge chocolate ice cream sundae, courtesy of the village.

I am glad I am adjusting to the academics here, and I can say that I am enjoying my classes so far. I am also remembering where my classes are more easily than I expected. Of course, the thing getting me through the week is Pancake Friday, and the fact that I leave for a 10-day trip in one week. Cheers!