Welcome to the fifth installment regarding my monthly favorites.
Back when I started blogging, I talked about wanting to “live my best life.” July exemplified that phrase in a lot of ways.
I started working from home, playing catch with my husband, stopped writing my freelance gig, watched a bunch of TV, and drank a bit too much coffee. Things got crazy mid-month. I went to Denver for an Ariana Grande concert (it was AMAZING) with my besties, back home to Gunnison for a parade, rodeo, and alumni softball game, and then I traveled to Canada for a family vacation. (Be prepared, this post will likely be pretty Banff-related!)
As I traveled, laughed, reminisced, and explored, I counted my blessings. I got to spend time with loved ones and surrounded myself with a steady stream of beauty and joy. Even though I barely touched my blog this month (shout out to the scheduling function) and pretty much ignored all social media (#sorrynotsorry), July felt like one of my very best months of the year.
Growth ain’t always about the numbers.
And with that, here are my top picks for the month of July.
Family Vacation: Banff, Canada
I never knew how much I needed a Banff vacation until I was there. But let me tell you: it was an amazing five days (it felt like not nearly long enough), and I can’t wait to return. It was best of July territory. It’s especially great for families, with the following activities:
- scenic in-you-face beauty that is highly accessible
- tons of hikes that range in difficulty, with many for beginners
- lots of history! Everywhere! We stayed in a castle, for example.
- gondolas galore—we were immersed in so much beauty and saw wildlife from here: a mamma grizzly bear and her two cubs. SO neat!
- high alpine lakes; check out Lake Louise and Morraine Lake! They were my favorite part of the entire trip.
- highly walkable downtown, with delicious restaurants, ice cream shops, and booze opportunities (for those over 18)
Bingable Series: Stranger Things
This month, we saw, we came, we conquered. Stranger Things season 3 was dominated in a weekend. It was wonderful, and likely our favorite season so far. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: I love those damn kids.
Community Event: Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo
I’ll be real: growing up, I rarely parked my Obama sticker-clad Jeep at the fairgrounds. However, take this from me: pull on your boots, slap on your button-down, and prepare for some heavy pro-America overtones. It’s worth it! The rodeo is a cool event that brings the community together—especially Cattlemen’s, which is the longest consecutive running rodeo in Colorado. I’m a huge fan of local support and the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, where admission funds go into cancer research.
Best Place to Grab a Drink: The Lookout Patio
As soon as we got to our hotel in Banff (Fairmont Banff Springs), we found our way to food. The Lookout Patio was our obvious choice. We came for the margaritas, and stayed for the views. With 365-degree sights of Banff, there couldn’t have been a better place to settle into Canada: it was beautiful, sunny (we were given sombreros to alleviate the intense sunshine), and breathtaking. Plus, their chips and salsa really hit the spot.
TV Show: How to Get Away with Murder
Almost immediately after burning through Stranger Things, Chad and I pressed play on a show that has been sitting on our Netflix Queue for quite some time: How to Get Away with Murder. It didn’t take long for the plot, characters, sheer brilliance, and ever-developing craziness of the series (set at a law school) to get us hooked. Viola Davis is a queen, and Shonda Rhymes has proven yet again that she rules the television writing game.
Watch. This. Show.
Reunion: Alumni Softball Game
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was nervous preparing for my first-ever Gunnison High School Alumni Softball Game. Here’s what happened: a group of women that played on the team, from classes 2003 – 2019, came together for a reunion. Short story: it was amazing. We laughed, cried a little (okay, just me, when I struck out), and reminisced about the power of the softball program we all loved.
Shout out to everyone there, the organizers, and the George’s, who came and watched me, just like old times.
Hot Springs: Banff Upper Hot Springs
The most on-brand thing I did in Canada was visit Banff Upper Hot Springs, right by our hotel. Our experience was very pleasant: it was affordable, surrounded by intense mountain views, and gave us the rest and relaxation that our bodies needed. Banff Upper Hot Springs was understated and glorious.
Event: Ariana Grande Concert
I’m a pretty new Ariana Grande fan. Since going to her Denver concert, though, I’ll attest to her talent for the rest of my days. I’m blown away by her voice and command of the stage. As if seeing her perform wasn’t enough, I also got to spend the evening with my two best friends, laughing, catching up, and riding in some very conversational Lyft cars.
Hike: Lake Agnes Tea House
IF you happen to visit Banff, be sure to make a day trip to Lake Louise. This lake is beautiful, with a clear-blue hue and icy sheen.
We decided to hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House during our visit; it was about 2 miles each way. While not technically difficult, the trail was inclined the entire time—not an easy jaunt. Along the way, we faced rain, cold, and frigid winds. However, there were amazing views, dense forest, waterfalls, and two high-alpine lakes, ending at Lake Agnes. The tea house itself was amazing too, as we warmed up with chai and breakfast biscuits, and shared our table with other visitors. (Keep in mind, though, that the tea house is cash-only.)
This hike wore us out in the very best ways.
- Distance: 2.2 miles (3.6 km) each way
- Elevation: 1312 ft (400 m) gain
And that rounds out my July favorites! Thanks for tagging along on my pursuit of sunshine.