Tag Archives: photography

Turquoise, blue and emerald

Fish beneath our Feet: A week in Bora Bora

After 10 years of tirelessly toiling everyday, we sold our business. As a celebratory vacation, we decompressed in Bora Bora for a week. It was like no other vacation we’d taken before.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora

After our jet sat down, we immediately boarded a boat that reminded me of something George Clooney would be cruising along in while visiting Venice.

Retro Boat

Retro Boat

In short order, we arrived at the Four Seasons hotel. It was no ordinary hotel. In fact, our home for the next week was a self-contained bungalow with sections of glass floor where fish swam beneath your feet.

Over water Bungalows

Over water Bungalows

We spent our days on the water. Mastering a Yolo board, sailing, swimming with sharks, or jet skiing.

Yolo

Yolo

Cameron mastering a watercraft

Cameron mastering a watercraft

Each morning we would wake up and take a dive into the ocean from the balcony of our over-the-water bungalow.

Our morning diving platform

Our morning diving platform

Mid week, we boarded a helicopter for an aerial view of the island where you can experience the expansive turquoise, blue and green.

Turquoise, blue and emerald

Turquoise, blue and green

The grounds of the Four Seasons were immaculate as if specifically designed for postcards.

Incredible flora

Incredible flora

Perfectly groomed beaches

Perfectly groomed beaches

Manicured grounds

Manicured grounds

A week came too soon. As we watched the sunset of our final night in paradise, I began to reminisce of how it all started 10 years earlier — with a dream of retiring early and enjoying lifestyle freedom while we were young and energetic enough to enjoy it.

Sunset in Bora Bora

Sunset in Bora Bora

I can’t believe we pulled it off.

About Us

Steve and Lynn Miller reached financial independence in 2012 at age 50 and now enjoy traveling, fitness, cycling, photography and lots of other hobbies.

In his spare time, Steve develops mobile apps. His latest project is an app that allows you to countdown the days to retirement or financial independence: http://www.CountUsDown.com/Retirement.

If you like this blog, you might also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and cool mobile apps.

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Postcard from Telluride

Finishing up our summer travels, we spent 2 weeks in Telluride, Colorado. It had been about 10 years since we last visited Telluride, I had forgotten how beautiful the town is. If you would like to see a slideshow of pictures we took while in Telluride, click here.

Welcome to Telluride

In fact, I would say Telluride and the surrounding area is probably the most beautiful mountain area in America, based on all of our travels.

Bridal Veil Telluride

Telluride is pretty remote. It takes 6 to 7 hours to get there from Denver and once there, it is a true mountain town. There are no major chains (Starbucks, Walmart (thank God), etc), so you better stock up on things before you get there.

Lake around Telluride

You come to Telluride to unwind or take in some outdoor sports. There are lots of mountain biking and hiking trails. However, riding a road bike is a bit of a challenge here, with only about 3 miles of paved trails. The town is small, but it has lots of cool boutique shops.

Telluride

Telluride has a lower and upper mountain level. The lower part of Telluride is the town and about 2,000 feet upwards is a town called Mountain Village (that’s where we stayed). Oprah Winfrey has land up there and plans to build something in the future. The houses are spectacular and they have a beautiful golf course in Mountain Village (too spendy for me, they wanted $195 a round).

Mountain Village

Opposite to Mountain Village is a high mountain range where Tom Cruise owns a house. It’s now for sale for $59 million, a bit out of our price range. The picture below is on a road that leads up to where his house is, as you can see it’s incredibly picturesque.

Road to Tom Cruises house

One of the attractions of Telluride and surrounding towns are old ghost towns left after the mining dried up. We visited Animas Forks Ghost Town and several others around the Ouray area.

Animas Forks Animas Forks Cabin Animas Forks Animas Forks

Animas Forks

I will leave you with some pictures from our hike up to Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride. If you get a chance to visit Telluride, I highly recommend it.

Bridal Veil Telluride Waterfall across the road in Bridal Veil Falls Base of Bridal Veil Falls Top of Bridal Veil Falls

About this Blog

This blog chronicles the travels of Steve and Lynn Miller, a couple that retired early after selling their software company. If you would like to sign up to receive these blog posts via email, scroll to the top  right sidebar of this page and enter your email address.

If you like this blog, you may also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology.

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Hiking Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride, CO

We are currently visiting Telluride, Colorado. From the town, if you peer 2,000 feet up the east side mountainside, you will see a power plant that looks like a house perched upon a ledge with an incredible waterfall that gracefully falls 1,000 feet below (Bridal Veil Falls).

About 8 years ago, we attempted to hike to Bridal Veil Falls with the boys and our new dog (our dog Katie was only a few months old).  The hike to the top is close to 2,000 feet in elevation change and the road to the top is rocky. Many people drive Jeeps and pass you along the way. Unfortunately, the hike was too strenuous for the boys and a new puppy so we turned back about a quarter of the way there.

 

Bridal Veil Falls

Fast forward about 8 years later, we are in Telluride again and I think both Lynn and I wanted a second chance at the hike so we decided to give it a shot. We have been working out pretty hard all summer, so I felt comfortable that we could do it.

Just around the first set of switchbacks, you begin taking in the view of Telluride below.

Telluride Colorado

Only another 1,200 feet to the base of the falls, so we pushed on. The views are even more breath-taking.

Bridal Veil Telluride

Before long, we encountered a waterfall that crosses the road and it is wonderful. My wife remembered that this was the exact spot we turned back with our kids last time.

Waterfall across the road in Bridal Veil Falls

As we continued to climb, we noticed the views of Telluride became more impressive.

Views of Telluride

As we walked, we talked about how we love being retired and how proud we are of our kids. We reminisced about our travels and how beautiful the world is. Forgetting the strenuousness of the hike, we looked up and we were already at the base of the falls.

Base of Bridal Veil Falls

There was a young couple there capturing some pictures and enjoying the magnificence of the view.

I told my wife if she felt up to it, we could go another half mile and see the view from above the power plant. I expected her to say “No, I’m good, we got to the base.” Instead, she said “Sure, let’s do it!”.

As we started up the next set of switchbacks we met a couple that were on a 3 month trip across the western USA and were in Colorado visiting their son before they headed out on the bigger adventure. We found we had a lot in common with them and talked along the way. Time sped by, we looked up and we were already at the top of the power plant.

Top of Bridal Veil Falls

After taking in the view, we headed back down the mountain. We noticed this section of the mountain that had previously used for mining. It had an old mining railway that was obviously dilapidated. To get this section, you had to cross over a bridge that had few wooden planks left.

Crossing over to old mine

We walked around the old mining shaft and could see where the mining carts used to shuttle ore from the mountain to the mining station at the base of the mountain.

Old mining railway

However, years have taken their toll and it’s now the railway to nowhere.

Railway to nowhere

I was surprised to see that some of the old mining carts were still stacked up along the mountain ridge.

Old Mining Carts

As we headed down the mountain, we talked about how much easier the hike was down than up. My wife was a trooper. She stretched herself a bit with this hike and I was really proud of her.

About this Blog

About the Author

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

Steve uses Personal Capital to manage all of his finances and investments because it is free and very robust. If you would like to download a free copy of Personal Capital, you can do that here.

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Chasing Ghosts in Colorado

Animas Forks: A Colorado Ghost Town

During our 2 week stay in Telluride, Colorado, we started looking around for nearby towns to visit. We happened to find a town with no residents. At least not anymore, it is officially a ghost town.

Animas Forks

Animas Forks was once a bustling mining town. Starting in 1873, the town eventually grew to 30 cabins, a hotel, general store, saloon, and post office.

Animas Forks

They even had their own newspaper “The Animas Forks Pioneer” that lasted about 13 years.

Animas Forks

Stepping inside of the old cabins was a bit eerie, you could imagine families huddled in the small rooms after a long day of mining. Winters would get cold here. One year Animas Forks received 25 feet of snow and residents dug tunnels to get from building to building.

Animas Forks Cabin

Animas Forks officially became a ghost town in 1920 when mining profits began to decline. Luckily, the town is well preserved and gets about 100,000 visitors each year.

Animas Forks

Getting There

Getting to Animas Forks is a bit of a challenge, unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle (preferably a Jeep). Animas Forks is located about 12 miles from Silverton, Colorado (about 2 hours from Telluride).

However, driving those 12 miles from Silverton can take about an hour because the road is narrow and rocky. Along the drive, you will see abandoned mines.

Animas Forks

You will also catch glimpses of beautiful waterfalls and incredible views.

Animas Forks Waterfalls

We drove an Audi 4 wheel drive up to the ghost town, but it was a slow bumpy ride. If we had it to do over again, we would have rented an ATV or Jeep in Silverton, that would have made the drive more fun and less rocky.

I’ll leave you with one final picture of our view on the way back down from the ghost town.

Animas Forks View

About this Blog

This blog chronicles the travels of Steve and Lynn Miller, a couple that retired early after selling their software company. If you would like to sign up to receive these blog posts via email, scroll to the top  right sidebar of this page and enter your email address.

If you like this blog, you may also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology.

Follow Steve: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

Exploring History in Savannah, Georgia

We’ve wanted to explore Savannah, Georgia for some time now and we finally grabbed the opportunity.

Original Capital of Georgia

Savannah was the first city to be settled by the British in the Georgia colony and later became the capital. It was settled by General James Oglethorpe to protect the Carolinas from Spanish owned Florida and French owned Louisiana. It is a port city on the eastern coast of Georgia.

Map of Savannah Georgia

The architecture of Savannah reminded us of European cities we’ve visited but the moss laden trees really give it character.

European Style Cathedrals

European Style Cathedrals

Savannah City Hall

Savannah City Hall

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Savannah has 22 squares, giving it a distinct European feel.

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Savannah is a vibrant city especially during the tourist season when they attract millions of visitors. We visited several museums and took a city tour. You can also take ghost tours (it is supposedly the most haunted city in the south) and carriage rides.

Ghost Tours

Ghost Tours

Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides

Tybee Island

Referred to as “Savannah Beach”, Tybee Island is a short car ride away. The Tybee Island Light Station was the first lighthouse on the Southern Atlantic Coast.

Tybee Island Light Station

Tybee Island Light Station

Along the beach are swings where you can rest as you take in the scenery. I wish we had these in Panama City Beach!

Swings along the beach

Swings along the beach

Katie taking a brief walk

Katie taking a brief walk

Fort Pulaski

On the way to Tybee Island is Fort Pulaski, the largest fort in Savannah, designed to protect Savannah during the Civil War. The fort was no match for the rifled cannons of the Union army and it fell to Union soldiers. As you walk around the fort, you can see a cannon ball still lodged in the exterior walls of the fort.

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

100 Year Old Home

We rented a 100 year old home during our stay. It had a 4 sided fireplace shaped like a diamond so that the 4 adjoining rooms had their own fireplace, all sharing the same chimney. Very cool.

4 sided fireplace

4 sided fireplace

Savannah Breweries

As we usually do, we sought out the local brew houses. We visited Moon River Brewing Company and enjoyed a nice amber ale.

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Slide Show of Savannah

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took in Savannah, click the image below.

Slideshow

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Hanging with the Snow Birds in Hilton Head, SC

This was our first visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hilton Head sits just off the southeastern coast of South Carolina and offers 12 miles of beachfront property lining the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilton Head SC

Hilton Head SC

Thousands of years ago, Hilton Head was a seasonal habitation for native Americans and was settled by European explorers for sea island cotton trade. It was an important island for the Civil War as it served the Union navy with an important blockade route for the southern ports. Once the Union had control of the island, many slaves migrated there and they became known as “native islanders”.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island

Sunrise in Hilton Head

We stayed in a newly renovated 1 bedroom condo with water views. It was nicely decorated and we enjoyed our stay there. During our time there, we met numerous snow birds from Ontario, Canada. They were staying for months at a time.

Katie enjoying the beach

Katie enjoying the beach

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

One of the things that surprised us was that there were tons on people walking the beaches, even at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One morning I woke up early and caught the sunrise.

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Hilton Head Sunrise

Hilton Head Sunrise

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Baynard Ruins

We also visited the Baynard Ruins, a plantation home that included a main house and slave quarters. The house which overlooked the Calibogue Sound near the south end of the island, was built by Captain Jack Stoney as part of Braddock’s Point Plantation around 1793.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The house remained in the Stoney family for several decades until it was lost by a Stoney heir in a late-night poker game. The new owner was William Baynard, a highly successful cotton planter who occupied the former Stoney home from 1840 until his death in 1849.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The home was raided during the Civil War and Union forces made it their headquarters. It burned down shortly after the Civil War.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

Golfing in Hilton Head

Unfortunately, I did not bring my golf clubs on this trip but Hilton Head has lots of incredibly manicured golf courses. I will have to make another trip back here to golf at some time in the future.

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Slide Show of Hilton Head

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took at Hilton Head, click on the picture below.

Hilton Head SC Slide Show

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Coastal Towns of South Carolina: Myrtle Beach and Charleston

After visiting Nags Head, North Carolina, we pointed our compass south. Our first stop was Myrtle Beach, the “Golf Capital of the World“. Boasting 100 incredibly manicured golf courses, this is a golfer’s paradise. Our next stop was Charleston, the site where the civil war began.

Myrtle Beach

Entering the city limits of Myrtle Beach, we passed golf course after golf course. All perfectly manicured, I can see why this is called the “Golf Capital of the World”. Traveling with our dog, I was not able to bring my golf clubs on this trip but I would have loved to play one of these courses.

View the Myrtle Beach Slide Show

The beaches of Myrtle Beach are expansive but I still think the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico are nicer (with our sugar sand and emerald-green waters).

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

One of the cool things about Myrtle Beach is that they have a boardwalk, something I wish we had on Scenic 30-a. They also have plenty of things to keep you busy, like zip lining, ferris wheels, and arcades.

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

As usual, we sought out a craft brewery. We visited New South Brewery but we were not very impressed with their craft beers — too watery for our tastes.

New South Brewery

New South Brewery

Charleston

Charleston is steeped in history as it was the main port for receiving slaves prior to the Civil War. Fittingly, this is also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired which lead to the end of a century of oppression. Evidence of the Civil War is everywhere.

View slide show of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is also a beautiful port city with century old mansions that take advantage of the seaside views.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Angel Oak

Near Charleston is an oak tree estimated to be about 1,400 years old, the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak measures 66 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference. The tree is massive, it reminded me of some of the huge trees we saw in the California Redwood forest.

Angel Oak

Angel Oak

Plantations of Charleston

Charleston has numerous plantations whose main crop was rice.

Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall was built by John Drayton in 1738 and has been preserved from that period. You won’t find many restorations (only those to keep it structurally sound) and you won’t find any furniture in the mansion. On our visit in late January, the house was cold and drafty.

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Inside Drayton Hall

Inside Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Hampton Plantation

On our way to Charleston, we stumbled onto Hampton Plantation. This is not the most visited plantation but it looked very similar to how I visualized plantations to look in the early 1800’s.

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

Charles Pinckney Farm

We also visited the Charles Pinckney farm. Charles Pinckney was the 37th governor of South Carolina and one of the architects and signers of the constitution. We were surprised to learn that South Carolina was the wealthiest state of the union at the time of the Civil War, more wealthy than Pennsylvania and New York.

Charles Pinckney Farm

Charles Pinckney Farm

Breweries of Charleston

Tradesman Brewing Company

We visited a couple of breweries while in Charleston. Our favorite was Tradesman Brewing Co. Located in a house that was converted to a brewery, it has a funky laid back vibe. The co-owner and wife of the brew master was serving up the beer and spent a lot of time with us bringing us up to speed on the local life of Charleston. She graciously suggested places to visit and talked about what it is like to live as a local in Charleston.

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Bay Street Bier Garden

The Bay Street Bier Garden (yes, they spell it Bier instead of Beer) is a cool place to enjoy your favorite brew. It has community tables where you can purchase a card that allows you to pour as little or as much beer as you desire from the taps at the community table. Pretty cool concept.

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Community Table Taps

Community Table Taps

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Slideshow of our Trip to Portugal

It seems like our trip to Portugal last summer was just yesterday. I finally pulled together a slide show of pictures from our stop in Lisbon, Portugal, I hope you enjoy it.

Lisbon, Portugal

LisbonPortugal

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Cool Cabin in the North Carolina Mountains

As I mentioned in my earlier post about goals, we wanted to vacation more this year in the states so we took our first adventure to North Carolina. We rented this cool, yet tiny, cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina. Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, the cabin had incredible views of the tree laden Smoky Mountains.

See a slide show here

Woodland Loft Cabin

Woodland Loft Cabin

The cabin was small, my guess is that it was about 300-400 square feet. But it made great use of the space. It had flat screen TVs, a fireplace, views from almost every inch of the cottage, a pretty large bathroom and a small kitchen. It also had a nice deck area with hot tub.

Great views from the bedroom

Great views from the bedroom

Deck with Hot Tub

Deck with Hot Tub

Hiking in Deep Creek

Just minutes from Bryson City is the Deep Creek entry to the Smoky Mountain National Park. From here you can hike the Three Waterfalls Loop. This is a pretty easy 3 mile hike that provides up close views of 3 waterfalls.  As we started our hike, a deer was just a few feet away drinking from the creek.

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Biltmore House in Asheville

Located about a hour from Bryson City in Asheville, NC, the Biltmore House is an impressive mansion built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Situated on an 8,000 acre estate, the Biltmore includes a house, vineyard, winery, farm, and tons of hiking trails. We’ve visited several mansions in the USA and a number of castles in Europe but this home is decorated in the most tasteful way we’ve seen.

The Biltmore House includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, a gym, and a swimming pool. As we walked through the rooms and visited the huge kitchen and servant quarters, it reminded us of the popular series “Downton Abbey”. They don’t allow taking photos from inside of the house, so you should plan a trip to Asheville to see it for yourself.

The Biltmore Huose

The Biltmore Huose

Local Craft Breweries

We always tend to seek out local craft brew houses when traveling. In Bryson City, we visited Nantahala Brewing Company. When we walked in, one of the locals entertained us with stories of the Appalachian trail, other local breweries, and his love of Alabama football.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Nantahala Brewing Company

Our new friend told us about breweries in a town about 10 minutes away called Sylva and told us that Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other place in America. I always thought Fort Collins, CO was the brew capital, who knew! We had to visit more breweries.

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

One of the breweries in Asheville that the local told us about was Pour. At Pour, they have 43 taps where you can sample any of the beers they offer. They give you a bracelet that you scan to allow you to pour as little or as much as you like and you pay for what you pour. Very cool idea.

Bracelet used for Pour

Bracelet used for Pour

Pour - 43 taps

Pour – 43 taps

Cherokee

Our final stop around the Bryson City area was in a town about 15 minutes away called Cherokee. Here they have museum that details the life of the Cherokee Indians and their plight with the Europeans that drove them out of their homeland. The exhibits were well done and informative. After visiting the museum I’ve decided to read the book The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765.

Catching up with Old Friends

We took this travel opportunity to catch up with some old friends. My best friend from high school, Bill Stuart (the author of Gemstone Chronicles), lives just north of Atlanta. He and his wife Lana met Lynn and me in Dillard, Georgia one night for dinner. It was the first time I had seen Bill since high school and it was great to see him and meet Lana.

About 3 hours east of Bryson City is Charlotte, North Carolina. Another high school friend, Bill Baxley, lives there. As we began heading towards the coast, we stopped in Charlotte to see Bill and his wife Michelle. This was our first time meeting Michelle and it was really great connecting with them during our journey.

Where are We Heading Next?

As we leave Bryson City, we will make our way to the east coast. We plan to visit the beaches of Nags Head, NC to see where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first flight. We also plan to see Cape Hatteras to photograph the iconic light house.

Leaving Nags Head, we plan to stop into Myrtle Beach (although I did not bring my golf clubs). Then on to Charleston SC, Hilton Head SC and then to Savannah GA.

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2014 In the Rear View Mirror

I can’t believe that I retired over 2 years ago. When this August 1st came along, I didn’t even realize that it was my retirement anniversary until I remembered it a week or so later. As I did last year, I wanted to share a review of 2014.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2014

We brought in the New Year in Fort Collins with our boys (Cameron and Ryan). We got to learn more about Fort Collins and spent some quality time with the boys. Cameron and I skied Breckenridge and had a great time.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir

Cameron skiing

Cameron skiing

In February, we returned to Florida with much warmer weather than we had experienced in Colorado. We took some day trips a couple hours away to visit Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, and Cape San Blas. I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm days.

Cape San Blas

Cape San Blas

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Spring 2014

For Spring Break, we returned to Fort Collins.  Now that it was warming up a bit, we were able to hike and cycle the numerous scenic trails.

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Hiking Fort Collins

Hiking Fort Collins

We also got out and explored the Fort Collins breweries. While visiting the local brew houses, we met some new friends (Doug and Julie) — they are also into craft breweries.

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Tour of Funkwerks

Tour of Funkwerks

Summer 2014

Our youngest son, Ryan, decided that he wanted to take the summer off and transfer from Colorado State University to the University of Florida. Since he was taking the summer off, we decided to travel to Europe for the summer. Our oldest son, Cameron, was working during the summer, so he stayed in Ft. Collins. This was the first time we had traveled with Ryan since we retired, it was a great way to spend the summer.

Paris, France

We spent 2 weeks in Paris, renting a small apartment just down the street from the Arch de Triomphe. We explored all that the city had to offer, visiting all of the major attractions and taking excursions to the French country side, visiting wineries and chateaus.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

Back entry to the Chateau

Chateau

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Spain

After leaving Paris, we flew to Barcelona, Spain.  We stayed in Spain for about a month and was able to visit Montserrat and Costa Brava.

Costa Brava

Costa Brava

Montserrat

Montserrat

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Barcelona Beach

Barcelona Beach

Our Spain trip was scheduled around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, where we had front row seats from a balcony overlooking the festival. It was incredibly fun.

Ryan all dressed up

Ryan all dressed up

Running of the Bulls

Running of the Bulls

We capped off our visit to Spain by visiting Valencia, Madrid, Laguardia, and Bilbao.

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Flamenco Dancing

Flamenco Dancing in Madrid

Laguardia Spain

Laguardia Spain

Incredible castle view

Incredible castle view – Laguardia Spain

Italy

After leaving Spain, we headed to Italy. We started our travels in northern Italy, visiting Milan and Lake Como.

Duomo in Milan

Duomo in Milan

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

From here, we headed to the Italian Riviera which was probably our favorite area of Italy.

Vernazza

Vernazza

Monterosso

Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

After leaving the Italian Riviera, we headed south to Rome, Tuscany, Pompeii and Capri. The blue grotto in Capri was stunning.

Rome

Rome

Tuscany

Tuscany

Pompeii

Pompeii

Capri

Capri

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

Portugal

Our final stop in Europe was in Portugal. We did not stay here very long but in hindsight, we should have stayed a few more days to take it all in.

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Fall 2014

After Europe, we spent about a month in Fort Collins then headed back to Florida. Ryan came back with us so that he could take a Physics class as he awaited his acceptance to the University of Florida.

Ryan and I decided to challenge ourselves to cycle 50 miles on the bicycle (I did the challenge in 2013 but he wanted to try it as well). He and I trained hard and completed a 45 mile and 50 mile ride a week apart. We finished the 50 miles in just 3 hours, 45 minutes quicker than when I did it by myself in 2013.

With the great weather we’ve had in Florida since our return, we’ve been boating, swimming, fishing, and spending lots of time outside. It has been fun having Ryan with us for a few months. He starts at the University of Florida in January so we will miss him.

Huge Jelly Fish

Huge Jelly Fish

Paragliders on the beach

Gliders on the beach

End of 2014

We are spending December in Florida. Cameron and Ryan will be here for Christmas so we will get to spend some great family time together.

In the Fall, we purchased a piece of land pretty close to the beach in Inlet Beach (about a mile from where we live today). We are planning to build a home on the lot, hopefully beginning in the Spring or early Summer.

We haven’t planned our next travel adventure yet, but we will definitely take a trip somewhere in 2015. Maybe Greece, Malta, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, or Finland? Not sure, but they all sound great!