As Alex was considering which capstone track to pursue, we very quickly decided that he should absolutely do the study abroad track. (Well, in real life, he wasn’t 100% sold at the beginning but I aggressively talked him into it; 6+ WEEKS IN EUROPE! WHEN ELSE IN YOUR LIFE WILL YOU HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY! I HOPE NEVER UNLESS I’M WITH YOU! GO TO EUROPE!) So Europe it was!
Tepper encourages students to travel during their breaks and gives an extra ‘experience week’ during winter and spring breaks. There are typically ‘treks’ organized that students (and partners!) can participate in and experience Japan or Israel or Yacht Week or Silicon Valley and more. We did not participate in a planned trek either year but we certainly made the most of our experience week this year!
We planned to spend 2 weeks in Europe together, prior to Alex’s capstone starting in Germany in mid-March. Before the unexpected anxiety, we’d planned to bounce around, spending a few days in various places. After anxiety, we opted to chill out instead: 5 days in Paris, 2 days skiing in Chamonix and 1 day to explore Germany before I left and his program started. It was relaxing, recharging and perfect.
Rather than a play-by-play, I’m opting instead to share snippets of our week via photos.
I can’t even overstate how much we needed a vacation – both as individuals and as a couple. Sitting on the plane to Frankfurt, we reminisced about the last time we took a vacation…4.5 years earlier for our honeymoon. Between vacations, we took many long weekend trips, road trips, ski trips with friends – but never a vacation for just the two of us with the sole intention of doing whatever the heck we felt like.
Now, I’m back into the swing of Denver life while he finishes his last few weeks in Europe before coming home for graduation. To say I’m anxious for him to be home (especially with current, unpredictable government) is an understatement. 3 weeks!
I moved into a duplex house with a roommate – my first roommate in 7+ years – and, surprisingly, the arrangement is going very well. We get along fabulously and spent the weekend doing very roommate-y things: making homemade pizzas on Friday night, watched a movie and YouTube videos Saturday night and Sunday, ran our own errands but caught up later in the evening.
My roommate has a little dachshund, Schnapps, who is a gentle and goofy old man of a dog. His signature move is to run up to anyone who has food and sit up on his hind legs, like a kangaroo.
I send so many snaps of this strange pose because it makes me so happy. I miss Philly a lot and it’s nice to have a little pup running around so I can get a few furry snuggles at the end of a work day.
Living just 3 miles from work, I’m biking to/from again like I did this summer. In fact, I’ve only driven my car a handful of times the past week (mostly to get furniture/items from Target for my new room) and I’m excited to continue biking or riding transportation regularly. Of course, the whole reason I drove the car back out is to maximize mountain time and now that I’ve situated myself in my new room, I’m looking forward to fall and winter mountain adventures!
When we left Denver last year, Alex and I talked about how whenever we did/do find our way back, it would never be the same as when we left. I agreed at the time and never really expected that I’d be back in Denver, without him, so soon after we left. It’s certainly not the life we left behind but I’m excited about it all the same. Work, travel, building new friendships, making time for hobbies, sleeping on both sides of the bed. 😉
I find myself missing Alex and Philly the most in the quiet moments in the evening, when I’m hunkered down in my basement room for the night. And in every moment of my weekend which has been such treasured time over the past year when I’d get more than a few minutes of time with my husband. Now, I’m figuring out new routines to keep myself happy and occupied during those times, as is he.
It’s emotionally hard to be separated and not feel left out when he’s hanging out with our friends or I’m at our favorite football hangout without him. But we both remind ourselves and each other that this long distance is a fleeting moment in the story of our lives. And the benefits outweigh the sacrifice. I know this to be true and I’m not wishing away the time, but I am looking forward to when Denver is OUR city again.
It’s a gorgeous fall day in Pittsburgh; humidity is low, temperatures have dipped and the sun is shining brightly. The kind of day that makes me appreciate spending time in the midwest for this moment in my life, yearning for the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk Philly around our neighborhood, snuggling under a blanket with my husband in the evenings in our poorly-insulated old apartment.
But this is likely my first and last midwest fall day this season because, today, I begin a drive west to move back to Colorado.
Being the sole remote person on my team was challenging; I missed interacting with my coworkers and I felt really isolated. Growing and leading a team remotely is extremely challenging and, this summer alone, I added 4 new members to my team and currently have open several open positions for my territory. Things at Ibotta are moving so fast and it’s such an exciting time to be part of this company that I don’t want to miss out on the unique opportunities and experience in front of me.
Alex immediately supported the move; he’s always encouraged me to find and follow what’s important to me in a career. After many thoughtful conversations, we made a game plan and I found a short term apartment in Denver before I left at the end of the summer. I will be spending most of my time in Denver and ‘reverse remote working’ where I’ll work remotely for a week in Pittsburgh every few weeks so I’m able to still spend time with Alex.
I’m as excited to move as I am sad to leave.
For much of the past couple of years, I’ve felt like I’m in the passenger’s seat, figuring out how to fit my plans into my husband’s school schedule. This, though, is me taking the driver seat (literally) and making a decision about what’s best for me, a decision that sets me up for current and future success and is a decision I feel really good about. I’m excited to continue to grow in my career and be in the office as the next months unfold.
Of course, it’s not without it’s tradeoff. I’ve cried many tears about leaving Alex and Philly. About the life experiences Alex and I will have separately from each other. About missing out on the precious little time I have left with our Pittsburgh friends before graduation in May. About not living a short drive from Cincinnati.
It’s going to be hard and exciting and lonely and rewarding, all a the same time. In the end, these 10 months of long distance will fly by and be an interesting story in this ‘unconventional’ moment of our lives. (And after 2.5 years of long distance dating, 10 months feels like the blink of an eye!)
When I decided to come back to Denver for the summer, my coworker and good friend, Courtney, mentioned she was signing up for backpacking school with the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) and I should join her. Sold! I feel very comfortable with my backpacking skills but I was not passing up an opportunity to have a few guaranteed trips built into my summer with the chance to meet new people who like getting outside (and who could teach me a new trick or two along the way).
The goal of backpacking school is to teach students about gear and how to pack for backpacking, how to navigate and route find and, most importantly, how to stay comfortable and enjoy the trip. Backpacking school follows the same format as all CMC schools: mandatory classroom sessions paired with ‘field’ sessions. In our instance, there were 3 classrooms sessions, held the the American Mountaineering Center in Golden (CMC HQ) and 3 overnights (2 single night, 1 multi-night).
For our first overnight, we ventured outside Breckenridge, CO, to the Spruce Creek Trailhead, destination Lower Crystal Lake.
We left the CMC early Saturday morning to carpool to the trailhead as we knew parking would be tight. Plus, less cars driving = less Sunday highway traffic and less environmental impact. Winning!
When we arrived at the trailhead, we were very surprised to find the small parking lot completely full and parking along the road full for at least 1/2 a mile; it was popular weekend in the Arapaho National Forest!
Lower Crystal Lake is a great overnight backpacking trip with easy access to water, a short but steep hike in and stunning views. Our CMC instructors had outlined our route and expected campsite in a classroom session but on Saturday at the trailhead, it was up to we students to ensure we navigated ourselves correctly to our meadow campsite. Fortunately, our route was on a clearly defined trail with only one tricky turn.
The trek in was approximately 2 miles and we reached our campsite destination just east of Lower Crystal Lake around lunch time, delighted to find no other backpackers had found the beautiful meadow before us.
Because this was many students first ever backpacking experience, our instructors outlined how the afternoon and weekend would be structured: first, lunch/setting up camp, then a field trip to the nearby stream to refill water, followed by navigation exercises and finally, dinner and s’mores around a campfire.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: typically campfires are not a thing for backpacking. This meadow had a clearly defined fire ring and the county/forest was not under an open fire ban. When in doubt, check with the ranger station where you’ll be camping to see if fires are allowed and where.)
We ended our evening with stargazing the clear sky above before retiring to our tents for the night.
Honestly, I was excited for this part: in all my years, I have always shared a tent but this night would be my first solo-tent experience. In fact, this whole trip was the first time I was 100% self-sustaining and it was incredibly liberating. All of my previous backpacking trips have been with Alex and we have always split the tent and shared gear but in backpacking school, I would be carrying all of my own stuff.
Turns out, sleeping in a 2 person tent alone makes for a slightly cooler night but nothing adding an additional layer and sleeping in my rain pants to keep my body warmth in couldn’t fix.
Sunday morning dawned as our group roused, sleepily making our way to the ‘kitchen’ for breakfasts. Sunday’s objective was to hike the mile(ish) to Lower Crystal Lake for more navigation practice before returning and breaking down camp and hiking back out.
The weather was on our side all weekend; no rain and barely a cloud in the sky. After breaking down camp, we enjoyed a leisurely snack before trekking out; we reached the cars just after 2p and were on our way back to Denver shortly after.
In total, we hiked ~6ish miles for the weekend, 4 of which with heavy packs on our back. All students and instructors had fun (surprisingly, our group hit it off incredibly well and laughed the entire trip – rare for a group of 10 people who just met!) Not too shabby!
You guys, what a summer. I am in my happy zone, that’s for sure!
From spending weekends in Los Angeles or in the Rocky Mountains to working my tail off during the week with some of the best people I know to finding time to read 2 books already, I am in love with my MBA Summer Break. And I’m not even the one in B-School!
I won’t bore anyone with nitty-gritty details of Colorado life since my last check in but suffice it to say, I am so grateful the stars aligned for me to spend my summer in Denver.
I definitely miss my husband – we live on very opposite schedules, despite being situated only 1 timezone apart – and being able to share my day and stories with him. It’s especially hard to talk about ‘big’ things/decisions when we only catch each other for a few minutes a day in between activities but we’re surviving and knowing there’s a finite timeline makes it easier/more bearable. And each of us are so involved in our jobs that if I were with him in LA, I think we’d be a bit miserable (he because he’d be working all the time and not be able to spend time exploring together; me because I’d be in a temporary city with no friends or husband to hang out with).
But right now, my days are so full of life that, for this brief chapter, I am enjoying only thinking/planning/taking care of only me. No one to clean up after or take out in the morning (#philly), no one to consider for dinner plans, no one to feel slighted if I want/need to work late. I’ve been spending my time bike commuting, working hard with the best people I know, backpacking and car camping, watching concerts, practicing yoga, reading books, making new friends and maximizing my time in this city.
I have stories to share about backpacking near Breckenridge, spending weekends on the beach in Los Angeles, new gear that I can’t not share with the internet and more.
Stay tuned, internet friends. Until then, I hope you’re enjoying your summer as much as I am!
Today is Bike to Work Day in Denver, the official day Denverites are encouraged to swap their car for a bike ride on their daily commute. This year, like last year, I am excited to be participating – not just for the cause but also for the 3 free breakfast stations along my route into work. YAS.
Truth be told, bike commuting is still fairly new for me. I bought a bike when I first moved to Denver but rarely rode it and relied on my car for just about everything. My commute was 11+ miles by car (9.5+ miles by bike) and for someone who had never biked commuted before, I didn’t even consider it to be an option. I lived in suburban-ish neighborhood where most of the things I did (groceries, restaurants, gyms, work) were not convenient to my apartment and were easier to get to by car.
A few apartments later, I found myself living in Capital Hill, an urban neighborhood outside of downtown Denver and when I started at Ibotta, my commute shortened drastically to a mere 3 miles each way. Some days, I drove to work when I had things to do before/after work (and on bad weather days), but most (nice) days, I biked and it truthfully changed my world.
(In Pittsburgh, I do a lot less biking simply because most places I go are either walkable or require a car due to distance.)
Now that I’m back in Denver for the summer without a car, my primary mode of transportation is my bike. And I love it. I never want to live in a non-bike-friendly city and for the rest of my working life, I want to live close enough to my office where bike commuting is an option.
As a gal who does *not* usually spring out of bed, ready to go in the morning, 25 minutes on my bike helps me wake up, get my blood flowing and think about my upcoming day before I have to be ‘on’ at work. The same is true for biking home after work – I like the time on my bike to decompress after busy days in the office – although, in Colorado, we typically have afternoon thunderstorms sometimes I’ll light rail to a stop near my house and bike the 1 mile home instead of 4.2.
But I also love biking for a slew of other reasons:
No sitting in traffic(!!!)
Built-in 60 minutes exercise each day
No cost!(no Uber or parking expenses)
No polluting (yay for doing tiny things to save the Earth!)
Bike lanes and bike paths = less interaction with cars (and distracted drivers)
Breakfast burritos at the office cafe
If your city has a Bike to Work day, I encourage you to try a bike commute. Definitely for the free breakfasts along the way but also, if there’s ever a day to try it, it’s when a whole bunch of fellow bikers are out, going your same direction – it’s a lot less terrifying than trying to navigate an unknown route for the first time on your own. After the first day biking, it’s easier to visualize how it can become a regular part of your routine and, soon enough, maybe you’ll find yourself in love with it like me.
2 weeks ago, Alex dropped me off at work and continued driving west, bound for Los Angles. Days prior, I’d moved all my stuff into my ‘summer home’ but over the weekend, we stayed at a friend’s house while she was out of town. Coming home to the summer home on that Tuesday evening felt a lot like walking into my college dorm room after my parents drove away that first night. I’d only met 1 of my housemates prior and, walking in on Tuesday night, the other 2 girls were hosting a spirited book club discussion. I quietly sneaked past and holed up in my basement room, unpacking and situating myself.
I felt the, OMG WHAT AM I DOING panicky doubts – should I have rented a place with no roommates? What if they don’t like me? What if our schedules totally clash and I’m always in their way? What if they get tired of seeing me wearing 1 of only 10 outfits I brought with me?
As the book club carried on loudly, jovially upstairs, I talked myself off the ledge. Don’t be inflexible, Lynne! Just like moving to college…the first few days of not knowing where things are, how to get places without a car, what to talk to your new friends about, those days are challenging.
But those days pass quickly. And then you find the bike path to ride to work and to the gym, and you make friends with your housemates, and you realize, no one actually cares that you only brought 10 outfits to wear this summer (but WHY DID I ONLY BRING 10 OUTFITS FOR NEARLY 4 MONTHS IN DENVER?!)
It took a few days but I settled into my new normal and, now, can hardly remember those panicky moments 2 weeks ago. I love starting my day with fresh air and sunshine as I bike 4 miles to work. I love working in the office with my co-workers (and am a little terrified of having to go back to #remotelife at the end of the summer). I love the simplicity of not having a car and having to be very intentional about my plans. I love spending time with friends and putting myself in situations to meet new connections. I love being to consider only myself and what I want to do. I love the independence.
I’ve been at this ‘new normal’ for 2 weeks now and it’s easy to forget this is a temporary normal. For the next 10ish weeks, I’m relishing this moment in my life.
We arrived in Denver 2 weeks ago and have been living the nomadic Airbnb and guest-room-crashing life thus far. It’s been fun living within walking distance to work, in our old neighborhood, near the parks we loved but I’m ready to settle into my ‘summer home’ and get into a routine again.
It’s so wonderful (and weird) to be in Denver and know I’m *staying* for the next few months. It already feels as though the summer will fly by and I’ll have to pack up to head east again in just a few moments. What’s that saying? The days are long but the summer is short? I’ve packed my upcoming summer weekends with camping, backpacking, visits to LA, visits from friends, yoga at Red Rocks, concerts at Red Rocks and most importantly, tackling a whole list of new breweries that need their IPAs tested.
During the weeks, I’ll be waking with the early Colorado sunrise, biking to work (!!), enjoying face-to-face meetings again, playing kickball with my co-workers, running on trails (mountain + urban) and not apologizing for one second for the giant smile on my face.
The first year of Alex’s MBA program has officially finished and he is on ‘summer break’! Kind of a misnomer because ‘summer break’ in business school is the time between school and internship. For Alex, he has a month off between classes ending to his internship beginning but other students had just a few days to get from Pittsburgh to their internship (but they have typically have a longer break at the end of their internship before classes start again in September).
Most of the first year of business school is focused on finding a summer internship and we always knew that for Alex, this likely meant not working in Pittsburgh. We spent many hours discussing cities, companies, lifestyles, future goals and more together as Alex identified his target companies for the summer. In many cases, the internship leads to a full time offer so we wanted to set ourselves up for the best post-MBA decision possible.
In March (on my birthday, in fact), Alex landed the best internship for his skills set and ambitions – it’s the perfect bridge between what he had been doing before school to what he wants to do after school. He’ll be working for a super cool media tech company, in Santa Monica/Los Angeles, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his apartment will be 6 blocks from the beach. Homeboy is living the Summer Internship Dream!
We also knew, before we even moved to Pittsburgh, that if Alex’s internship was not in Pittsburgh, I wanted to spend my summer in Denver. Working remotely is hard and working remotely and leading a team at an aggressively growing and extremely innovative company is even harder. While I’ve come to enjoy my personal life in Pittsburgh and feel like I am in a good ‘working remotely’ rhythm, I’m missing out on in-office collaboration and career growth opportunities. Plus, it’s lonely! I miss talking to my coworkers in person and socializing. Without Alex in Pittsburgh, I would surely become the crazy hermit lady who goes days without talking to anyone in real life and nobody (especially not me) wants that.
So, all this to say that Alex and I are en route across the country, wheels pointed west! We are spending a couple of days with our family in Cincinnati and then will drive to Denver. Alex doesn’t start work till early June so he’ll/we’ll have a few weeks of downtime in Colorado before he finishes the last, 17-hour leg from Denver to Los Angeles.
These next few months of Summer Break are sure to be chaotic with both of us working at companies we’re excited about and traveling/exploring on weekends and I couldn’t be more giddy. And bookended by a cross-country road trip?
Last week, I lived the (insanely) good life in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There is, quite simply, no other way to put it.
Earlier this year, one of my best friends, Elizabeth, asked if I had any interest in a trip to Cabo, Mexico to celebrate her 30th birthday.
Elizabeth and I are friends from college and, through the years, have kept up a long-distance friendship that includes visits to each other’s cities but also big trips to explore the world around us. We’d been brainstorming ways to ring in our 30s – maybe with a trip to Costa Rica? – but hadn’t landed on anything that felt exactly right.
When she called and explained the situation – a friend in Minneapolis, WL, was also turning 30 and lucked into a sweet deal on 2 condos at the Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach and we’d only need to cover our airfare – Sold! I was in. A quick search secured me a $400 plane ticket and we were booked.
There were 9 of us in total throughout the week and it’s impossible to succulently recap the trip – from the first class upgrade on our MSP>SJD flight (thanks, WL!) to the incredibly beautiful resort to lazy days spent in a beach cabana drinking margaritas to playing in ocean waves, it was all so dreamy.
We ventured into town a couple of days – once for Elizabeth’s birthday dinner, once to spend the day at the sister resort, walk around the town looking for local shops and dinning on non-resort food. (Insider’s tip: Cabo’s downtown caters to the tourists on vacation so there was less local shopping than we’d hoped but it’s still worth wandering around.) We tossed out our watches and lived a relaxed life, (mostly) disconnected from the ‘real world’.
We watched sting rays jump out of the water making their way up the shore in the evening light; we walked through a beautiful cactus garden, taking millions of photos. We ate avocados for breakfast, tacos for dinners and spoke a teeny bit of Spanish we knew whenever possible. The 7 days flew by in an instant and I can’t believe I’m already back home in Pittsburgh, nursing the last bit of sunburn on my back.
Lazy beach vacations are not my typical choice for spending free time but, damn, did it feel good last week! It was a perfect celebration a new year, a new decade and a great friendship. Truthfully, I’d never considered a trip to Mexico before but Cabo is definitely on my radar for a future long weekend beach getaway.