by chelseakyaw

As our time in Colorado comes to an end, i am flooded with many emotions – sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, excited to begin the next chapter of our lives, and nostalgic for all of the memories and places we will leave behind here. These last two years were truly the best of my life – I’m not sure what Arnold feels, but I can guess he feels the same. We left on a whim, basically one night in February 2015, we had a few drinks at dinner and just literally decided “Let’s do it! Let’s move to Colorado! Why not?” And so we did! We had no plans, knew no one out here, and figured nothing was stopping us. There are a lot of other reasons why we wanted to move out here too – Iowa wasn’t doing it for us anymore, we felt that if we stayed in Iowa during that point in our lives, we would be in a rut. We had recently gotten engaged, earned our degrees, and thought now was as good a time as any to go. I can tell you now – getting out of our comfort zones and away from everyone was literally the best decision. Because of that, we had an opportunity to be us – no driving back and forth to visit people, no doing ANYTHING for anyone. It was about us!! Well, we saved a lot of money, landed ourselves some jobs and an apartment, packed up our lives (left at midnight and checked into our apartment at 10am, unpacked the whole next day without any sleep) and started our jobs two days later. PHEW. 

In the last two years, Arnold and i eloped in the mountains, visited the most amazing places, dipped our toes into the career world for a chance to grow, and had a baby. We did it. I’m going to be completely honest when I say this, but the only reason we are moving home is because of Forest. Living in colorado with a baby is not easy. Not because we aren’t close to people, i mean – maybe a little, but because it’s so damned expensive. We truly hope to move back someday once we have a little bit more age on Forest. Arnold also had a career opportunity back home and we also felt that was the next step in order to progress with our lives. We did want to be closer to our roots to raise Forest and are hopeful to move back here (or anywhere in the united states) if anything allows. 

ANYWAY… I am going to recap the standout times of our last two years. *cries*

Literally our whole lives were packed into this trailer, along with our two cars. We left at midnight with cats and ourselves and our belongings and trailed it to Colorado. We haven’t been back to Iowa since! 

After a long day of packing, we thought it would be only fitting and drove up to the mountains. This photo I will treasure forever, as it was our first of us and our first real adventure as Colorado residents. We were such babies! 

Work life!! the photos above basically encapsulate our work life. I worked downtown, Arnolds first job was a traveling computer repair guy so he basically worked wherever they needed him (was downtown a lot). The best part of those first few months was being able to head to work with arnold and enjoy a breakfast downtown before we started our days. I really loved working in the city – i had the best of both worlds // work in the city, play in the mountains. My lunch break consisted of shopping the cute little city stores and also doing some site seeing. The food down there was alright but my favorite – sushi burrito. My least favorite thing was the homeless people and my favorite thing was the view!! I could work in my stuffy office but still see the mountains. After work, Arnold and I would usually hop right into our car and adventure in the mountains. I will truly miss those days. Riding the light rail and experiencing public transit was also something i am glad i will hopefully never do again. 

Our first time camping! We learned quickly that traditional camping in the rockies required months of planning… otherwise you might drive around all day looking for a spot. Also, sleeping in your car is fun – we kept the door closed because we were afraid of animals. Another first? s’mores made with poptarts. 

Our first little “trip” was with work friends! We drove to St Mary’s glacier and hiked alongside a waterfall and made it to the glacier. One of the most beautiful places we’ve visited during the last two years for sure. Also the first time i realized that you could experience at least 5 different types of weather all in one day. Snow, spring, summer, hot hot heat, lightening storms, etc. We only went there once – the first hike like that while getting used to the altitude literally kicked our asses! 

These last two years would not be what they are without visiting the RMNP – our favorite. We got a season pass both years and when we didn’t know what to do, we drove up through estes (elk city!) and hung out in the park. Each time we would go to the park, we would visit something new. My favorite trip to the park was the day we hiked through dream, nymph, and echo lakes. A small trail in the south east part of the park with a pretty big incline the whole way up. Nothing like glimmering lakes, evergreen trees, and lily pad filled lakes. We also enjoyed driving to the tundra when the trail ridge road was open. One of the places we visited most frequently was our rocky waterfall. One time, we tried to climb as high as we could – “i bet we’re close to the top now!” ummmm no. and we never made it. We actually took Forest to visit that rocky fall area when we came up a few weeks ago!

Another favorite place – Pikes Forest – you travel west a bit on 285 and turn south and the Forest takes you east quite a bit – We enjoyed making the full circle trip as to not visit the same place twice. FUN FACTS about this place – our vehicles got stuck in the snow twice down in the valley of this Forest. The first time, we were together and our car slipped in the snow and we got stranded for a while. The middle picture above is when Arnold was hanging out overlooking the river and i did nothing to help but take photos. Thankfully the kitty litter in our car and some guy named Jeb helped get us out. The second time, literally the same area was me all by myself. Also the first and last time i ever explored by myself in the mountains because of how frightening it was getting my car stuck (errrr the front wheel) in the snow on the side of the road. Some lady luckily found me and roped my car out. I cried and then drove home. Pikes forest had some of the best wildflowers and the cutest donkey. 

My favorite picture at one of our favorite places, the Garden of the gods. 

i know they say take only photos and leave only footprints, but i definitely took my fair share of flowers and also left a lot more than footprints. don’t worry, i didn’t leave trash. I almost buried my rat in the mountains but the thought of a bear or a mountain lion digging her up kept me from doing so. She’s been in my freezer and i guess i’ll bury her back in iowa. If you’re reading this far, I guess you deserve to know that. 

We only summitted two of the 14k feet mountains – Evans and Pikes peak. We actually didn’t hike to the top of any 14ers. 

The only mountain we actually climbed to the top was mount Lily. Our friend Colin hiked with us and it was the most tired i had EVER been in my life. climbing to the top of lily was harder than childbirth. 

The view outside our apartment. Aren’t we lucky?

the food in colorado S U C K E D. compared to Iowa, there is no food here that i will miss. except these donuts. 


my second favorite part of colorado? (i think you know the first. stay tuned) GETTING MARRIED (ELOPING) IN THE MOUNTAINS. We eloped with our best friends, Deb & Tony Logan, at Eldorado Springs. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot, overlooking a canyon with water and mountains upon mountains topped with pine. My bouquet was mountain flowers that Debbie had picked for me before the ceremony. Tony wrote our service and married us and we sealed our love for all eternity on land we trespassed on. We married on September 12, 2015. Arnold says that on September 11 we never forget to buy an anniversary gift. that’s why i married him. he’s smart. 

I literally have a thousand photos of the sand dunes locked away in my memory and also in my hard drive. We visited this place every season and there are new things to find and love each time you visit. SNOW ON SAND. i mean… come on. Arnold brought his skateboard and snowboard and used that on the dunes. I did not because i am a baby. I don’t particularly enjoy the beach or the ocean, but i do love me some sand on the mountains. We did attempt to summit the sand dunes but it was another situation where the top just never came. 

another favorite trip of mine was visiting the black canyon down by Gunnison. We got up early, headed south west, explored the canyon and also largest lakes in CO and were home by late night. This trip was also one of the scariest because driving the perimeter of the canyon is literally my hell on earth. 

you guys. DENVER LOVES LIGHTS. The city goes above and beyond on the 16th st mall for its lights during the holidays, christmas lights in the suburbs are just messed up, and Larimer street (a block away from my office) always has lights strung out. My favorite cafe was on this street and sometimes the best way to start the work day was a coffee under the city lights. 

I’m going to be honest when I say i truly prefer fall in Iowa as the colors are more expansive, but you just can’t beat colorful trees in the mountains. My favorite part about autumn in Colorado are the aspen trees. 

Winter in Colorado… the first year, we were a lot more brave than last winter, mostly because i was pregnant and was NOT going to fuck around in the mountains in the snow. just. no. One time we drove around on a random week day off – We parked, Arnold skateboarded down the road and i took photos. Another thing about winter in the mountains is sometimes you don’t even have to wait until traditional winter months. Like i said before, go far enough up and you’ll find snow. when we visited RMNP a few weeks ago, there was still snow! One of the scariest moments of my life was when we were driving through white out conditions through the mountains. I about had a heart attack. i do not recommend. 

Our first christmas in colorado and as a married couple – this will ALWAYS be my favorite christmas. Christmas with just the two of us, no driving through iowa (if you’re family and reading this, we will never drive across a snowy iowa on christmas again and thanks to Colorado, we definitely will be enjoying it as an intimate family of three) – anyway – we feasted on our own meal, stole a tree from the mountains, and finished the day with a hike and a picnic somewhere in the mountains. Last christmas we stayed in and snuggled with our cats because i was fat and pregnant. 

My most favorite trip? Heading west to Moab and visiting the Arches. We spent a few days making it a road trip and then driving through the national park. Someday i would love to go back and explore more of Utah. 

On Arnolds 30th birthday, we had this week long trip planned for MONTHS. in MARCH. to go to the grand canyon. we would road trip and stay in a few places until we got to Arizona and then travel and eat and have fun EXCEPT the morning we left, Colorado had a shit surprise blizzard that literally trapped us on the interstate all day. Of course we tried. there was a hot tub and celebrations for my hubbies birthday ahead. We talk about what could have been and laugh about it now but still consider this our biggest regret. 

If you would have asked me two years ago what my biggest goal for colorado would be, i would have said “to see a bear” – i did not see a bear. or a mountain lion. I DID HOWEVER see mountain goats, sheep, bighorn sheep, moose, elk, turkeys, wolves, foxes, and a thousand or more deer. Remember when Iowa chelsea saw a deer and she thought that was cool? Well we can thank colorado for ruining that. 

We stayed in TWO airbnb with friends and family. Basically living the luxury life. 

We had a lot a lot a lot of fun in the mountains, in the city, and in our home as a family of two, but the best thing Colorado have to us was our little boy, Forest. While he took away many opportunities to visit the mountains, he truly gave us the best adventure that will last a lifetime. Becoming his momma and papa has been the highlight of the past two years and we are so excited to see what will happen next. 

While pregnant with Forest, we spent a lot of time inside where it was safe – mostly eating. We had the best thanksgiving dinner – duck. i plan on keeping the duck tradition alive in our Kyaw family. We also made some effort to go on a babymoon to New Mexico. Why new mexico? Well… i ate a lot of mexican food, thought that new mexico would have good mexican food (they don’t by the way), and we were going to go to mount rushmore but decided to go to new mexico because it was still a short drive and someday when we are in iowa we can visit mt rushmore. 

Thankfully we were able to take Forest to the spot where we got married, the garden of the gods, and to the RMNP. We will be back with this little guy for sure!! Can’t keep the forest out of the forest…

Colorado was the best two years (so far) and these photos only put a small dent in my collection. We will be back :)