My Summer Must-Haves

So summer is finally here and even though we’ve had snow in the month of June, it’s starting to finally feel like summer here in Colorado.

No summer is complete without hiking, camping, enjoying the sunshine and just being outdoors. Add in the beautiful green landscapes, BBQs, the occasional day on the water and the longer days and it’s an ideal time for family, friends and fun. I love getting out to kayak, hike and camp and even though my first camping trip of the year was foiled by snow, I’m looking forward to the rest of what the warm season has to offer.

Of course the summer also brings out many things that I can’t live without. So here are 10 of my Summer Must-Haves.

Fresh Fruit
Who doesn’t love fresh fruit? Strawberries are my favorite and in the summer there’s plenty of different recipes to try. I enjoy homemade granola, honey yogurt and sliced strawberries. My favorite homemade granola recipe is actually my college best friend’s recipe which you can find here. Strawberry Shortcake is also a summer favorite with fresh whipped cream. Strawberry banana smoothies? Definitely a morning must.

Popsicles and Ice Cream
If popsicles and ice cream aren’t a highlight of your summer, you’re doing something wrong. The hotter weather and icy treat go hand-in-hand. I really like Outshine Fruit Bars because they’re made with real ingredients and taste delicious. The creamy coconut flavor is one of my favorites followed closely by the pomegranate one. For ice cream, I’m pretty happy with anything that has chocolate. If I’m looking for a pint just for me to devour in one sitting then it’s Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food hands down.

HydroFlask Water Bottle
You definitely need a good water bottle in the summer time. You have to stay hydrated, especially in the hot summer sun and Hydroflask water bottles are ideal because of there insulation technology. I’ll fill my bottle with ice in the morning and still have over half at the end of the day. Even after filling it with more water at lunch it stays cool. I like the 21oz narrow mouth bottle with the sport cap because it’s the perfect size for a small hike, kayaking or just sitting at the office.

Neutrogena Sunscreen
Sunscreen is vital for summertime. Nobody likes to look like a lobster and it’s just plain uncomfortable to deal with sun burnt skin. I prefer Neutrogena because it’s lightweight and not oily. I tend to have oily skin and putting sunscreen on was always gross feeling but with Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch formula it feels clean. I’m also conscious about the products I put on my face and I know I can trust Neutrogena to not cause a breakout.

Osprey Packs
I love my Osprey packs. I have a few bags from Osprey that come in handy a lot during the summer. I have a 65 liter Aura AG backpacking pack that I am hoping to use at least once this summer. It’s been a while since I’ve done an overnight hiking trip but I know I’m prepared with the Aura pack. For day hikes I have the Manta AG 24 liter. It’s the perfect size for a day out on the trail and the hydration component is the best element. In addition to my hiking packs I also have a simple lifestyle pack that I used for school and a carry-on luggage piece that is perfect for a short trip.

Chaco Sandals
I practically live in Chacos during the summer and I’m not ashamed to say I strive for that summer #ChacoTan. I got my first pair of Chacos when I was in middle school and have continued wearing them ever since. The quality of Chaco products are well worth the price and they have styles that fit everyone. I’m a classic ZX or ZX/2 gal but I’ve also purchased sneakers and casual leather sandals as well. I love the products, love the quality and highly recommend them to anyone that needs a good summer sandal they can wear out on the water or on the trail.

Repel Natural Bug Repellent
The only unfortunate thing about summer is all the nasty little bugs that come with it. The area I live in is inundated with mosquitoes and in order to survive you have to use bug repellent. I prefer to use natural bug repellent instead of DEET based products only because DEET can be harmful not only to your skin, but to your clothing as well. Did you know it can actually melt certain plastics? If it can damage plastic why would you want it on your body? My product of choice is Repel’s Natural Bug Repellent that is made with lemon and eucalyptus. Though the plant-based formula isn’t as powerful as a DEET-based formula, it’s a lot better for you and it smells amazing. You just might have to apply it more often.

Oscillating Fan
It doesn’t matter where you live, summer is hot and those that don’t have a fan are just crazy. In the mountains a lot of places don’t have AC so opening windows and getting a fan going is the only way to keep the indoors cool. It sounds like such a random must-have, but it is a must for me. I don’t personally have a preference of fan brands, but something of better quality that will last more than one summer is preferred. I like the tower style that oscillates just because it gets air moving around the room the best and they’re more stylish that the classic stand fan.

Library Card
If you haven’t caught on that I’m an avid reader, I’m here to tell you I’m an avid reader and having a library card, especially in the summer is a must. Snuggling up with a book on the deck or in my hammock is one of my favorite relaxing activities. With this year’s COVID-19 regulations, I’ve taken on reading some of my own books instead of borrowing from the library. I like being able to physically browse the library and I’m sad I can’t do that this year. But, I normally hit up the library a few times a month during the summer to borrow a book or audio book.

ENO Hammock
Being able to set up a hammock wherever is really nice. ENO Hammocks are ideal for any type of adventure. They’re super lightweight, small and packable and they come in great color combinations. I typically use my hammock at home on a stand, but I have the ENO Atlas straps that work great when I’m out camping. Reading, taking a nap or just relaxing wrapped up in a hammock is truly one of my favorite summer pass times.

These ten items aren’t the only ones I would consider must-haves for the summer but they are my top picks. What are your summer must-haves?

The Short Warm Season: Summer and Fall Wrap-Up

Even though it is technically still fall, here in Colorado we are already in full-blown winter. It’s already snowed twice and it’s sticking to the ground so it’s staying for the next six months. I’ve been a bit absent from here lately, but it’s because I’ve been busy. So here’s a wrap-up of all that I was up to this summer and fall.

Camping

I only got out once this summer and believe me, I wish I had gone more. Thankfully, my family wanted to go out to one of our favorite remote spots in Routt National Forest for a weekend in August. It’s not far from where we live so it’s an easy location to pull the camper out to. We didn’t have the best weather, but the clouds cleared and the wind died down to give us this beautiful sunset.

Reading

I tried to read a lot this summer because it’s always nice to sit outside, enjoy the warm weather and get lost in a good book. Check out my 2019 Reading Challenge page to see what all I’ve read. My favorite spot to read: my hammock in the comfort of my own backyard.

Hiking, hiking and more hiking.

I didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, but I did still got out quite a bit. Some of my favorite trails are just 10 minutes from my house making them very convenient for a quick adventure. The Indian Peaks Wilderness offers an abundance of trail types and destinations like Cascade Falls where my mom and I try to hike to every summer together.

Concerts

I have never been a huge concert goer. They have just never been a major priority for me, but then again I don’t keep up on new music (fortunately, I have a friend who keeps a playlist updated for me). My first concert was the fabulous Kelly Clarkson back in 2006 when I was 10 years old and the next was my sophomore year of high school where my brother (from another mother) scored Katy Perry tickets last minute.

This year I managed to go to two concerts: Kacey Musgraves at the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater with my music guru best friend and then the stunning Carrie Underwood with my mom who hadn’t been to concert since Kelly Clarkson with me 13 years ago. Both were amazing concerts that I really enjoyed attending.

Kayaking

I have to say I’m lucky for having friends that are willing to let me borrow equipment and go out with them. My high school best friend has a spare kayak that I think I spent more time in than her family probably did. I’ll forever be grateful for where I live and the ease that comes with getting to nature. One of my favorite spots, Willow Creek Resevoir, is less than 10 minutes away and is non-motorized so you don’t have to dodge boats while paddling around.

Family Time

My mom got a kayak for her birthday and I got to take her out during the peak of fall foliage – resulting is some beautiful photos obviously. She loved it and can’t wait to get out next summer. I love spending time with my mom and hiking, camping, kayaking or just spending time with each other. It’s valuable time that I have now because I’m unsure where I’ll be next year.

Adventuring

Summer and fall are the best times to go out and adventure. I consider every day that skews from your typical routine as an adventure. I had a few ups and downs this summer so when fall came I decided to make the most of it and just enjoy life. That meant anything from taking a day to watch my favorite movies, sit and read or simply spending time with friends and family. It all wrapped up beautifully with a birthday hike with my best friend in early October.

Then winter hit…

The warm weather came to a halt on October 10th when we got our first snowfall of the year. So here is to the next beautiful season and all the adventures awaiting us!

My Summer To-Dos

Summer is finally here and I want to do so many things. And I’m sure many of you have a long list as well. There’s still a bit of snow on the peaks in the Rocky Mountains here in Colorado but it’s beginning to get warmer and there’s plenty of activities to be done this summer.

I have only a few things scheduled and a lot of things that I hope to do in between. I’m a very classic (or you could say stereotypical) Colorado gal and I am hoping to spend most of my summer outside. Of course I work, boo adulting, so everything has to be either on the weekends or after work.

I’m kicking off my summer tomorrow with a trip to Oregon where I get to see my best friend, explore Portland and attend the UO graduation as an alumna. And here are the rest of my Summer To-Dos:

  • kayaking on Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain and Grand Lake
  • camping (of course)
  • Kacey Musgraves concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater
  • reading – gotta keep up on that Reading Challenge
  • backpacking trip – hopefully with the boyfriend
  • game night
  • yoga – inside and outside
  • hiking – I have a few specific hikes I’d like to complete this summer and I will certainly share them
  • outdoor movie night
  • visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • open an Etsy store (stay tuned for this)
  • get in shape – workout more
  • plan a vacation for the fall or next spring
  • bike riding – there’s an awesome path that I can access from my work parking lot
  • spend time with my mom, best friends and boyfriend
  • farmer’s market
  • s’mores
  • wine festival
  • spend time relaxing in my hammock
  • go to WaterWorld with my brother from another mother
  • house warming party (we still haven’t done one)
  • play frisbee golf
  • make homemade ice cream
  • get better at paddleboarding
  • craft fair
  • work on my novel
  • putt-putt golf (also maybe some real golf?)
  • shopping (this is really year-round)
  • picnic somewhere new
  • go to the movies – there’s a lot of movies coming out this summer that I am very excited about
  • campfires in the backyard
  • pay off my car
  • get back into art – drawing mostly
  • play soccer
  • paint pottery
  • get an awesome Chaco tan
  • garage/yard sale-ing
  • cook, a lot
  • make a fort and have a movie night inside it
  • star gazing
  • get crafty
  • 4th of July fireworks
  • outdoor music festival

There are plenty of things I’m sure I have forgotten, but I want to know what’s on your summer to-do list! Drop them in the comments below.

Happy Summer!

Summer Hikes – Devil’s Thumb

I took a solo journey up to Devil’s Thumb on July 6th. It was amazing but challenging four-hour hike where I was able to take some wonderful pictures. Living in the Rocky Mountains is a blessing and every chance I get I like to hike and take in the beauty around me in Grand County.

Here are some of the photos I was able to take. The wildflowers were in full bloom and scattered down the trail. Plus the view from the top was pretty cool.