Suitcase Diaries: DENVER, COLORADO

“I actually cried at the top of a mountain range.
So yeah, it was humbling.”

Devil’s Head Trail

Denver, Colorado is such a unique travel experience. If you come from a city, Denver seems so vast. A lot of open land with emphasis on the natural beauty of the state. If you come from a small town, you feel both eagerness to explore yet comfortable touring the city and mountains.

Denver was a humbling experience for me. I traveled alone, yet spent all my time with my best friend. She has called the Centennial State her home for over three years, thus allowing me to come as a tourist and explore as a local. Talk about the ideal way to see a new place.

If I had to sum up the trip in 5 words: nature, peace, relaxation, inspiration, and ice cream (I’ll explain the last one later)

Let’s start with the highlight of the trip – the nature

Let me just say this… I traveled from Philadelphia. I am a city dweller, if you will. Fast walker, subway rider, quick thinker, and overall fast-paced lmao – I’m not used to slowing down. Or hiking mountains. Taking in the scenery. But let me just tell you about the SCENERY.

PRO TIP: don’t forget to put off your hiking for a day or so. It’s important to get acclimated to the higher elevation, especially if you come from a place close to sea level.

Our first hike was Devil’s Head Fire Lookout trail near Sedalia, CO.

Quick facts:

  • 2.8 miles round trip, roughly 2+ hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Elevation gain: +940 ft
  • Drive from Denver: 1 hr 15 min

Facts cited from: Day Hikes Near Denver

This was the perfect hike for a newbee like myself. Like I said, I’ve hardly ever stepped foot up a mountain (they makes PA mountains look like hills). I felt like I conquered this one, tho of course I stopped as necessary to catch my breath – and take photos, obvi.

There were many spots along the way to stop and take photos with breathtaking views. As you reach the top, you’ll spot a small cabin where the seasonal fire lookout rests from dusk to dawn. There are a multitude of fun facts in case you are interested in where they get their food, how often they come down the mountain, etc.

The view is outstanding, like nothing I have ever seen before. Snow-capped mountains in the distance look more like paintings. Loads of greenery and tops of trees. Natural rock fixtures and a bright blue, clear sky.

additional nature sights:

Lake Dillon centered by a vast body of still water and mountain scenery for a
jaw-dropping backdrop

Breckenridge typically covered in snow and skiers, I had the joy of seeing this in the summer and let me tell you, it was still bustling!

Loveland Pass (where I cried lol) we drove up this mountain with nonstop views until the very top where I naively presumed all to be seen was out my passenger side window. Wrong. So wrong.
360 views that resulted in me feeling so small, so grateful, and full of tears.

Next up, let’s discuss – brews and food

Bigsby Folly Winery

What better way to spend my first day getting acclimated than to tour a few breweries + a winery? Kidding, I don’t recommend getting wasted in your first 24 hours lol the elevation is like a generous bartender and will get you drunk. Fast.

Alas, if you are being careful (preferably with friends) and drinking a water in between beverages, it is a blast exploring the relaxing nature of breweries and rooftop bars in RiNo (River North Art District).

A few to name:

American Bonded an adorable rooftop bar (indoor seating also available) with a kickass bartender the day we were there – s/o to him. If you want a quick snack, this is your jam. We ordered cheese curds and the ranch was out of this world
Bigsby Folly winery with an industrial, retro, artsy vibe to it. Grab yourself a glass of wine. I’ll be the first to tell you that you deserve it!
Stem Ciders was probably my favorite location, as I’m a cider connoisseur. Loads of cider at this place, and a lot that are Denver specific

Onto food, as you’ll need some substance after dabbling in the brews:

BRECKENRIDGE

This town is a GEM. One of my favorite spots. Quaint and nestled between the mountains, this town offers a happy stroll along their main street for loads of window shopping and lunch options

Bangkok Happy Bowl Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar delicious and quick service during lunch. 10/10 would recommend the shrimp tempura roll and the crab Rangoon appetizer
TBar one of the food/drink options along the gondola ride to the top (PS – the gondola is free, just a small fee to park). Grab a drink and enjoy the view! Tons of food options here as well

Gondola ride in Breckenridge

UPTOWN

Park & Co. solid choice for a downtown dinner. A+ on my turkey burger and fries and again, the ranch slays
Coperta this Italian restaurant had me drooling the moment I laid eyes on its menu. I’m always good for a solid food recommendation and I’m telling you right now to get the spaghetti cacio e pepe (see below) or the rigatoni carbonara

LOWRY

Lowry Beer Garden okay, besides Coperta (who doesn’t adore pasta?) this was my FAVORITE meal. Low-key beer garden with quick service and high quality food, grab yourself a cider and a fish sandwich… or really anything else. This place won’t disappoint

I’ll never skip a cold brew & bagel:
Woodgrain Bagels your bagel heaven. Don’t skip this if you are nearby! Plain, everything, salt + pepper, onion, and the list goes on
Copper Door after your bagel, stop by this friendly quaint coffee shop where the barista ran out of cold brew but offered to hand brew a different batch of iced Americana (or something like that) – solid customer service

I told you I’d get back to the ice cream:
High Point Creamery the first night I was there we grabbed ice cream from here after dinner, and it’s the perfect way to end an evening! Delicious, creamy, and at least 10 flavors I’d never heard of before. Think: lavender… or French toast *drooling*
Rocket Ice Cream sitting right outside the Lowry Beer Garden (see above ^) the ice cream here is..
1. Conveniently located after you finish dinner in the beer garden
2. Offering unique flavors that make a delicious treat post-dinner

Lastly, I’d like to mention – miscellaneous things

If you’re a city dweller and want to explore the “busier” side of Denver, LoDo (lower downtown) is very walkable with the free MallRide and MetroRide. Union Station is very cool to see (not to mention clean!) and contains misc. shops/food options inside

If, by some chance, you are traveling from Lake Dillon to Breckenridge (you could make this a trip btw), please drive along Swan Mountain Road. I couldn’t stop sticking my head out the window and snapping photos – which even looked gorgeous from a moving car. This scenic route showcases houses on hills, bodies of water, and mountains in the background. This is best if you have a friend to drive so you can peek out the window 😉

My final tip is simply to keep in mind the airport is located about 45 mins from the city, give or take based on traffic. Not the worst, but be prepared for a long-ish Uber/Lyft ride depending on where you are staying. If you happen to have a friend in the city, you’re one lucky SOB.

My wrap-up thoughts? I’m in love! I think everyone should plan a trip here, hike at least once, treat yourself to some authentic breweries, and enjoy the peace. It is no wonder everyone in Colorado hikes on weekends, the mountains do wonders for a clear mind.

Xoxo,
Katrina
I love to meet new people!
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5 healthy habits for your life, body & soul

“It’s time to get my mind, body, and soul aligned.”

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HEY FAM, WHAT’S UP? I’ve missed writing. So we’re diving back into it. Also because I’ve taken a small break from YouTube for the time being while it’s been hard to find time to film. It’s easier to film vlogs so I don’t have to set up a scene with a background and lights and all that shit. Know what I’m sayin’? Irrelevant, so let’s move on.

While I have you here, I want to talk to you about 5 big (but easy) changes I’ve made since the start of this year and how I’ve stuck with them. I also want to dive into how I’ve been feeling since making these changes and how it’s positively affected the health of my body and mind.

I turned 26 at the end of 2018, and the past few years of my life have felt simultaneously peaked, but like a clusterfuck all at the same time (lmao – anyone else?).

Since 2017, here’s a list of some pretty crazy life events:
– I had bell’s palsy (shitty)
– I got married (peak of my life)
– I developed cystic acne (shitty)
– I traveled outside the US for the first time (fun & exciting)
– I experienced anxiety (shitty & terrifying)
– Started a YouTube channel (both exciting & scary)

These are just a few examples of how my life has been back and forth recently. I have an amazing fucking life, don’t think I’m saying I don’t. I just want to plant the seed for explaining why I felt the need to make the following 5 life changes and the passion behind implementing them.

I’m in my mid-twenties, it’s time for me to take control of my life and not watch it pass me by. Capisce? Here’s what I’ve been doing to improve my all-around health.

Make the gym a routine

THIS HAS BEEN MY FAVORITE. Truly. When you feel strong, you feel good. It’s as simple as that. Not to mention feeling confident in your body s the most gratifying reward.
It doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to run on empty.
Start slow and easy. The best way I’ve found to incorporate a new routine is to take it step-by-step.
– join a gym
– commit to 1-2 fitness classes a week
– give strength training or at-home workout routines a try
– just GO and get yourself there
– don’t let “I’m out of shape and don’t know where to start” stop you!

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I promise you, if you start and commit to one week at a time, your routine will fall into place. I’ve fallen in love with a good sweat session of HIIT cardio, strength training with squats and weights, and even struggling through a yoga class. The point is, I’m making myself go – no excuses. And the beauty of it is it’s turned into a routine for me so I feel compelled (and even enjoy) to exercise weekly.

Pick up a book & set a reading goal

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THIS. Who else has a reading goal set for the year? Let me start by saying, I ADORE GOODREADS.COM – it is my ride or die reading platform. You can log and review any book you have ever read, and keep track of books you want to read. Finishing a book almost becomes addicting as I want to immediately rush to Goodreads and hear what people are saying and how those thoughts align with my own.
Seeing your reading goal and progress of books you are currently reading as a physical motivator helps to maintain this goal and set to achieving it.
Similar to the gym routine, start slow and easy. You don’t need to set a reading goal for the year, but how about you start by picking up a book? Or downloading an audiobook? Reading has given me an extra release of stress in the evenings as I wind down from work and turn my mind to OFF. Not to mention you can escape your own reality 😉

Make healthier choices as to what I put in my body

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Oh baby. Boy, oh boy, is this one tricky. Again, my mantra here today is: SLOW AND EASY. You don’t have to accomplish everything all at once. Maybe your first step is cutting out pre-packaged breakfast bars in the morning and substituting that for fruit or overnight oats.
There is no need to stop eating all sweets and sugars, but maybe you can substitute healthier options one at a time. Here are the substitutes I’ve been making:


breakfast: no more packaged bfast bars w/ loads of carbs and sugar
try instead: fresh fruit & Greek yogurt, overnight oats, eggs and toast
lunch: cut out packaged meals such as easy-mac and rice-a-roni
try instead: leftovers from dinner the night before! cook a little extra so this step is a no-brainer
dinner: cut out frozen meals
try instead: fresh veggies, marinated meats (chicken & beef), whole grain pasta/rice
snacks: again, cut out the packaged food
try instead: walnuts, whole fruit, and girl allow yourself some chocolate once in awhile xo

Implementing this step has led to a stronger fitness journey (and easier since I’m not slowed down by unnecessary sugar in my diet). Plus it’ll allow you to see the results you are looking for much faster. In general, I feel better when I am putting healthier food into my body.

Take time to reflect: journaling & yoga

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JOURNALING: Don’t even think about this one – just do it. This is as easy as writing your thoughts/feelings onto lined paper. You don’t have to buy a fancy $30 planner. You can even keep a journal in Google docs. However it is, start writing. It may not be your thing, but how can you know until you begin? I found out very quickly that bullet journaling is the most natural way for me to keep track of how I am feeling as well as checking in with myself (which we often forget to do).

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YOGA: one suggestion – Yoga with Adriene. She is calming and has a yoga for every stress in your life. Back pain? She has a routine. Hungover? Yeah, there’s one for that too. Feeling anxious? This meditation melts the tightness in my chest and I feel brand new before bed. Don’t think – just try it.
Wondering what it’s like to try yoga for 7 days straight? I did, and here is my experience.

Spend less time on my phone & turn off social media notifications

This one is new for me, but damn is it having a huge impact on my mind. There are ways to disable notifications, limit your time on apps, etc. Just check your phone settings. I have the Google Pixel and on it there is a Digital Wellbeing section in ‘settings’. I know iPhones have a similar feature, and if there’s one thing you take from this, please go to this feature and check your screen time for today.

Is it higher than you expected? Lower? Regardless, maybe it can be better.

I started to feel like my phone was taking over my mind. I could come home after work and spend 45 mins scrolling on social media instead of having a conversation with my husband. Or how about watching IG stories at lunch instead of reading a book (I kicked this habit and now read non-fiction during lunch).

This is a personal goal of mine, and it may not be for everybody, but I wasn’t happy with how addicted I felt to my phone. It’s quite cringey, tbh. I turned off all notifications for IG, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Below is a screenshot of my time spent on my phone from one Wednesday to the next. Look at the difference in screen time on Instagram. Not to mention I was on my phone about 2/3 LESS than a week before. Just seeing the decrease in time lowers my stress. Lol. Anyone else?


WOW. This was wordy. I hope it wasn’t too much. If you made it this far, thank you for investing time in reading. Did you pick up some good habits? Do you already do some of these? I’m curious to know – what else should I be doing?

It starts as a small change, but makes a huge impact on your health. LOVE YOU ALL – take care of yourself.

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Xoxo,
KS Loves red lips isolated in white

I love to meet new people!
YouTube: youtube.com/katrinasm
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