It’s been a hot minute since I’ve dedicated time to this little blog! I have so many posts swirling in my head but after a busy work day, I often choose to decompress and close my laptop in the evenings. But I miss blogging and the creative outlet it provides.
Since moving back to Denver 6 weeks ago, I’ve found myself in a weekday routine that centers around biking to/from work, working and making myself dinner for 1. Not much variation and, now that I’m settled in my routine, I’m ready to create space in my days to be creative or feel inspired – something I haven’t done since the beginning of the Summer of Chaos.
In ‘the old days’, when my husband and I didn’t live this unconventional, long distance life, we would set 2-4 mini goals for the month, write it on a piece of printer paper and post it on the fridge to serve as a daily reminder/inspiration. We each set our own goals and mine included things like: read a book, don’t buy kombucha, do 1 creative thing, mail 4 letters, go to OrangeTheory or yoga 3x each week. Simple and tangible.
So this month, I’m bringing the mini-goals back into my life! In November, I will aim to:
Take the stairs (at work, airports, whenever possible)
Dedicate time to meditation/reflection at least 3x per week
Eat out less + focus on more healthy/homemade meals
Read 1 book
I’ll be splitting the month between Denver and Pittsburgh/Cincinnati so I intentionally chose achievable goals that are location agnostic.
To keep these goals top of mind, I have them posted both at my desk at work and in my room at home. I’m excited to make time to feel inspired and work towards personal goals that should make my mind and body happy.
From time to time, I like to chronicle a day in my current moment of life. The past few years have been full of finite moments and big transitions so pausing to take inventory of what is happening in this chapter. This chapter is particularly unique.
This post captures a fairly regular Tuesday. I’ve been watching pups through Rover.com (I miss Philly!) so on this morning, Gertie and I woke up early to walk around the neighborhood before breakfast (I’ve been spoiling myself with homemade breakfast tacos!), before biking to work.
Work consisted of internal meetings, client calls, emails and projects. I caught up with a friend over lunch and took a brief walk around downtown for some fresh air afterward. I headed home a bit early on my bike to let the dogs out for a potty break.
After feeding the dogs and grabbing myself a snack, I hopped in the car and headed back to work to watch a screening of the documentary, CODE, Debugging the Gender Gap. It was really interesting and, while I wish we were at a point in society where we didn’t have to have conversations or films about gender equality, I so appreciate that my company IS talking about it and promoting equality and diversity in tech, in the workplace, in the America.
After the film, Gertie and I went out for another brisk walk around the ‘hood before cranking out a few last emails and heading to bed. For the days that she stayed with me, my fuzzy pal Gertie snoozed right next to me like a giant, living teddy bear. It was the best.
And today, in this moment right now, my husband is traveling across the country to plant himself in Denver for 10 days and I can hardly contain my excitement – this will be the longest we’ve been together since May! It makes me so happy to know I get to have conversations in real life, share dinner and snuggle next to my favorite person every day for the next week and a half.
DISCLAIMER: As a participant in Outdoor Research’s #ORInsightLab, I am offered the opportunity to test seasonal gear in exchange for my honest review. This post is not sponsored but I did receive the gear for free.
The second jacket I tested this summer was the Outdoor Research Women’s Tantrum Hooded Jacket, a lightweight, wind-resistant shell.
Over the summer, this jacket was a great layer for early morning backpacking starts and trail running in higher elevations. As with the Helium II, I didn’t encounter much adverse weather this summer (yay!) but as summer has wound down and temps are dropping, I find myself reaching for this jacket for biking to/from work in the cool air.
Similar to the Helium II, OR cut weight by dropping hip pockets and, instead added a pocket in the back. The pocket contains an elastic band so when the jacket is packed down into the pocket, you can strap the elastic around your waist for easy carrying. Because I wear the jacket when I have a pack close by, I used the pocket to store things (namely, keys and chapstick).
What I love most about this jacket is that it keeps me warm when I need it, stretching with me as I move while still being breathable and lightweight. The thumb holes to keep the sleeves where I want them as I’m running or hiking and the jacket feels like a second skin, almost, during highly-aerobic activities.
Clocking in at 4.4 oz, the Tantrum is one of the lightest jackets I own which makes is a no-brainer to pack down and toss in a pack.
Great for spring, summer and fall pursuits in windy, rainy or a little bit chilly weather, the Outdoor Research Women’s Tantrum Jacket has quickly become a staple item in my backpacking and trail-running kit.
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!)
DISCLAIMER: As a participant in Outdoor Research’s #ORInsightLab, I am offered the opportunity to test seasonal gear in exchange for my honest review. This post is not sponsored but I did receive the gear for free.
This summer, I tested out 2 jackets from Outdoor Research as part of their #ORInsightLab team and I’ll be profiling them this week and next. First up, the Helium II Women’s Jacket!
This jacket has been heavily praised, winning awards like ‘Best Waterproof Running Jacket Winter’ from Runner’s World or ‘Top Pick Award Winner 2015’ from Outdoor Gear Lab so I was pretty pumped to pack this jacket for my summer adventures.
Unfortunately, my summer adventures were mostly hot and dry so I didn’t get much of a chance to put the waterproofness to the test too often but will be doing so this fall during rainy season in Pittsburgh.
But I will speak to the breathability and packability because both are excellent attributes of this jacket because both are outstanding. I’ve brought my Helium II jacket with me on every single hike and trip in the past several months and have worn it frequently when it’s windy and as a layer when the sun starts to sink lower in the sky and the air cools down in the mountains.
On cool morning hikes in Idaho, this jacket was the perfect layer over my shirt to keep me warm from the light breeze but, because of the breathability, I never felt uncomfortable, even when hiking up steep grades.
And as it relates to packability, can’t be beat with this one. It’s extremely lightweight, clocking in at 5.5 oz (less than half the weight of my Clairvoyant jacket) and packs down such that I can hold the entire jacket in my fist. It’s extremely easy to stuff into a 65L backpack for an overnight trip or a small trail running pack without giving up much/almost any retail space.
The tradeoff with lightweight is that there aren’t any exterior hip pockets. (There is an exterior chest pocket, though.) This did take adjusting on my part because I so frequently jam my hands, phone or snacks in the exterior pockets of my jacket that it felt strange to not have them. But after a few wears, my brain figured it out and I found alternatives.
Two additional features I really like about the Helium II jacket are the internal pocket and the drawcord hem to cinch the waist.
As I adjusted to the loss of external pockets, I quickly found the internal pocket to be useful in carrying snacks or my ID/credit card. Again, not my first instinct so reach inside my jacket for key items but it was nice to have a place to put small items that I wanted on my person. This pocket also doubles as a stuff sack with a carabiner loop – great for clipping to a climbing harness! Most of my adventures kept my feet on the ground but the Helium II would be a great addition to any climbing trip.
The drawcord hem is a feature I’ve really come to appreciate in my active jackets. When the temperatures dip or the rain is pouring, I like being able to cinch down my outerlayers to preserve warmth and keep moisture out.
Overall, really loved the lightweight and breathable Outdoor Research Helium II Women’s jacket. There’s no question that it will be a tagalong on outdoor adventures of all varieties for many, many years to come.
Truthfully, I am as relieved as I am sad the summer has come to an end. This summer was full of life and excitement; I rarely had a down minute to focus on anything besides what I was doing that exact moment and what I needed to be doing the next moment.
I’m currently back in Pittsburgh and it feels SO GOOD to be in one place for more than a few days, to be back in an apartment with my husband and dog, to have some semblance of ‘normal’ for a little bit.
Since I last checked in, I moved out of my ‘summer home’ and then flew to Boise to road trip across ID + OR with Heidi. Coincidentally, my trip overlapped with Alex’s trip to Bend so it was a treat to spend ~12 hours together with our friends. I then returned to Denver where I bounced around lodging arrangements, 5 nights with a friend in Wash Park, 5 nights house/dog sitting for a friend in the Highlands.
10 days after leaving Portland, I got on a plane to head BACK to Portland (hi again, Oregon) to run 15.5+ miles of the Hood To Coast relay with a super fun team. I left the race early and boarded a bus from Seaside, OR to PDX just as my team was crossing the finish line (official time: 28:46:46, 30th in our category!) to catch a red-eye flight to Pittsburgh by way of Chicago. Tired yet? 🙂
After landing in Pittsburgh Sunday morning and sleeping most of the day, I worked remotely for one day before boarding ANOTHER flight on Tuesday for Denver for in-person work meetings. On Friday afternoon, I flew back to Pittsburgh and packed my backpack for our Labor Day backpacking trip in West Virginia.
All of this to say…I’ve more than enjoyed my summer of chaos but I’m really happy to be in one place for a little bit. While talking to my dad earlier this week, he commented, ‘Well, you guys certainly are unconventional!’ and I don’t think a truer statement could be made about this moment in this Petre family’s life.
This week, though, I’ve spent my time doing very conventional things: working (albeit, remotely), eating meals with my husband, catching up with Pittsburgh friends, bonding with my pup, exercising, getting more than a few hours of sleep a night, reflecting.
Savoring these moments of calm before the next round of sustained chaos, rapidly approaching.
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!
For the first weekend since my first weekend in Denver, I am IN Denver with NO plans. For the past 8 weekends, I have either traveled, backpacked or had friends in town and, while I’ve loved every single minute of it, it feels really decadent to have a down weekend…before the next round of madness.
This weekend, I am packing up the room of my ‘summer home’ in preparation for the next, full-time tenant who moves in next weekend. On Tuesday, I leave Denver to meet up with Heidi for a wild west road trip through Idaho and Oregon in the #YourLead van. When I return, I move in (very temporarily) to a friend’s basement until I shift to another friend’s house where I’ll be house/dog sitting while they’re out of town. From THERE, I’ll fly to *back* to Portland, OR, to run with Paula, Katie, Heidi and others in Hood To Coast. From THERE, I’ll red-eye myself to Pittsburgh to spend a (probably exhausted) day with my husband before he starts his second and final year of grad school the next day.
The past few weeks have brought roller-coaster emotions, from the very high (Alex surprising me with a ticket to spend a weekend in Vegas with him) to pretty low (finding out important but scary family health news). I backpacked in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness for my final backpacking school overnight. I spent a final weekend in Los Angeles with Alex before he ends his internship this coming Friday. My brother and his girlfriend visited this past week and we went to Red Rocks Amphitheater for LCD Soundsystem (which was AMAZING!). And as work goes, I feel as passionate as ever and am very excited about what the next months hold.
I’m honestly flabbergasted that the summer is already coming to a close. And while it feels like I just arrived, I also packed so many great experiences into these past 11 weeks.
It’s hard sometimes for me and Alex to see the forest for the trees of this season of life. We can get so laser focused on how much we miss each other, how much we miss ‘real life’ together in the same city (with two incomes!) and forgetting this chapter is a finite moment.
The past year has brought so many interesting and important adventures into our life that we otherwise would never have experienced. Never in my life was Los Angeles on my radar or in my consideration set for a place to visit or consider living. We’ve road tripped across the country multiple times (and will do so a few more times before this season ends). And this summer, I’ve rediscovered my self-reliance in so many facets of life and have been humbled by the outreach and willingness of friends to loan a car or ride or, most importantly, an ear.
Alex and I have grown so much as a married couple, as individuals and as professionals this summer and past year that, without taking a step back to reflect, it’s easy to forge ahead and not appreciate what we’ve learned and who we’ve become, together and separately. And I’m pretty damn proud of who we are and where we’re headed.
With a few more weeks of summer chaos, I’m excited for the last adventures each of us has on our schedules but more excited to reunite in Pittsburgh at the end of the month. Less than 3 weeks till our little family is reunited!
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!