BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO from Michael Justin Films on Vimeo.

Jackie and I love the out doors. When we lived in San Diego, our life was full of activities like surfing, biking, and hiking on a daily basis. Now that we live in New York City, the opportunity to do those things are few and far between. 2013 is a big year for me – I turned the big 3-0 – and although not one to make a big deal over my birthday, I knew I wanted to do something for the occasion.

If you ask Jackie about her track record with birthday gifts, she’ll voluntarily divulge she’s about one for fifty with me. It’s nothing against her, it’s just that anything I want I typically buy instantly, leaving her with nothing but a hope and a prayer that what she gets me is something I could want or need. But the stars aligned on this one and Jackie hit my gift out of the park – she took me on a 5 day Breckenridge Colorado vacation. It was the perfect way to celebrate the milestone. Her, the beautiful Colorado scenery, great weather, and lots of activities.

We arrived in Denver on Thursday afternoon, picked up our rental car, and headed two hours west to Breckenridge. If you’ve never been to Breck before, it’s this quaint little ski town that sits at the bottom of the rockies. Even though we went in late May, there was snow on the mountains and slopes were still open. Our first day was spent walking around the town and getting ourselves acquainted w/ the local establishments. We decided to hit up the local grocery store for some food and supplies. It wasn’t before long that the altitude sickness kicked in. For me it were headaches. For Jackie, nausea. We decided to lay low the rest of the night and watch a marathon of Game Of Thrones 🙂

Day two was our hike up McCullough Gulch – a trail that we were told would be intermediate in difficulty and should be clear from snow. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The snow that was supposedly ‘cleared’ was about 3 to 4 feet high and every now and then you’d hit a soft patch and you’d be stuck up to your thy, trying desperately to get out. This proved to be too difficult to hike so we diverted to a another trail. This was a much better, a much steeper, and much more manageable climb. We were deep in the forest for most of the hike until we past the tree line. We looked back towards the town and saw the beautiful snow capped mountains. We took some photos, rested on some nearby trees, and enjoyed the mountain air.

Day three was horseback riding, something Jackie LOVES. After a little gps malfunction, we finally arrived at the stables which sat on a special section of Breckenridge Mountain. The views were spectacular but overall, we were unimpressed w/ the experience. Our advice would be to find a private ranch or location that will allow you to do more free range riding – we basically walked for 20 minutes in a single line which was on the more boring side.

I’m a big New York Rangers fan and while we were away, the blueshirts had a big do-or-die Eastern Conference semi-finals game w/ the Boston Bruins. Luckily the playoffs are somewhat televised in this country and we were able to find a bar that played the game – Breckenridge Brewery. Although they were victorious that night, two days later they were beaten and knocked out of the playoffs [wiping away a tear as I type this].

Day four was a big one – white water rafting. Unfortunately due to the nature of the excursion, I didn’t bring my expensive camera and lenses – I opted for the GoPro Hero 3 Black edition (thanks Dom!). However, before we made it to the rafting site, we stopped to take a few scenic photos.

The Arkansas River has many levels of difficulty from class 1, all the way to class 5. We tackled a class 3 that day, which falls into the intermediate level. The part of the river we rafted was called “The Numbers,” a series of difficult rapids that climaxed at the number 5 rapid, the largest of the group. We had been told that since snow runoff was beginning, the water was a frigid 40 degrees. Needless to say no one wanted to end up in the water that day. At the number 5 rapid, there was a 5 foot cliff that you descend in a rocky gorge – three unfortunate boats flipped that day, sending all passengers into the snowy slush. Luckily, we were not one of them and we made it out ok. This was also the day that Jackie caught her terrible head cold that left her feeling pretty crappy for the next three days.

Day five was probably my favorite. We rented bikes from a local bike shop in town and rode through the beautiful bike paths Colorado has from Breckenridge to Frisco, a 9 mile trip. We stopped along the way and hiked some more, had the best Ruben sandwich I’ve ever had (granted this was my first Ruben) at Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe and then caught the free bus back to Breck.

I love Colorado for many reasons but as this trip confirmed, they promote healthy and active lifestyles, something we are missing in New York. As someone who works way too hard with two full time jobs, this trip helped me remember how much I need nature and the outdoors in my life. It won’t be a change overnight, but it’s a goal of mine to get back an active lifestyle once again.

We hope you enjoy the photo and the quick film we made of our trip! Until the next one, back to the NYC grind…