return to the motherland |

getting in touch with my inner colorado girl



I was grounded this past weekend. You might be asking yourself from what was I grounded? I mean I’m almost 25. Was I sneaking out past my non-existent curfew? Not exactly. You see, I wasn’t grounded for doing anything wrong per se, rather I was grounded from doing too many activities.

I’m perhaps a little too good at keeping myself busy sometimes. There are so many things in my life that I love to do that I have a hard time saying no to anything! But I have lately been realizing that there’s only one Paula, and I can only do so much. This past weekend I had been planning on doing some hiking and attempting a 14er with some of my friends when my roommate Gracie finally intervened and grounded me for the weekend. I was grounded to a weekend of fly fishing and golfing and relaxing – no strenuous activities allowed!

The site where I was grounded. Being grounded was never this much fun when I was 16!

Gracie and I headed out for the mountains Friday afternoon. I had spent the morning at the Denver DMV (don’t get me started on the ridiculous parking tickets I have gotten lately), and I was definitely ready to get out of the city. We made it up to her parents’ condo just in time for an evening fly fishing session. I had never gone fly fishing before this weekend, but ever since I saw Eastern Rises, a documentary about fly fishing in Russia, I have thought that fly fishing looked rad. Gracie’s dad was basically my personal fly fishing guide for the weekend, and he gave me some lessons on Friday night.

We woke up early the next morning, and biked into town for breakfast. Then, we got ready for some more fly fishing action.

On the creek again.

Try not to be jealous of my sweet outfit.

I had snagged my line on enough rocks in the creek that I was well trained at pulling my line out of the water just in case the tug was a fish. To my surprise, one of the tugs finally ended up being a fish! I caught a beautiful rainbow trout, and I was pretty proud.

Here fishy fishy.

I hooked one more big rainbow trout, but it got away before we could get it off the line. I also caught a tiny brown trout that we didn’t bother pulling in to shore. Fly fishing is surprisingly a huge rush. It’s also surprisingly very relaxing, which was sort of the whole point of me being grounded. There’s something so therapeutic about casting a fly into open water.

You haven’t lived until you have gone fly fishing with a Yorkie in a life jacket.

 In the spirit of relaxation, we took a mini-break from fly fishing to go to a beer festival in Carbondale. For $15 we went to the Carbondale Bread & Brew Fest. It was basically my dream afternoon. The beer fest was not crowded in the least, and we had unlimited samples from the Who’s Who of Colorado Brewers (Avery, ODell, New Belgium, Ska, Oskar Blues, Bristol, Fort Collins, and Breckenridge to name a few).


Gracie’s mom bought a frisbee from the New Belgium tent and so naturally we started an impromptu game of catch. It was all fun and games until we plowed into a two year old kid. Oh well. Children are resilient!

After the brew fest, we decided it was time for an evening fishing session. We grabbed our bikes and headed back to the creek. Gracie and I shared a rod, alternating between beer drinking and fishing.

Fly fishing like a G.

Our day ended with dinner followed by a leisurely hole of golf before dessert. We played a scramble, and I was on a team with Gracie’s mom. She was an excellent golf teacher, and I made it across the pond on my second swing. I really didn’t think I was going to make it over the pond at all!

Golf at dusk.

I realize that my weekend sounds like every 65 year old man’s dream, yes. And I now share in this dream because fly fishing is that awesome. Yet most importantly the weekend taught me that slowing my life down a little might not be such a bad idea. Relaxing activities can be just as much fun as climbing mountains.  I think I’m going to have start grounding myself on a regular basis!

Being grounded – it’s not the worst thing ever.

Dear Paula, Please ground yourself in the future. Thanks, Paula



DC chilling

“DC really only started becoming cool like five years ago,” my friend Liz explained as we ate red velvet cake at Founding Farmers restaurant in Washington DC this past Saturday.  I have no what DC was like pre-2008, but I was definitely impressed with how much fun I had during my brief time in the nation’s capital. After my time in Charlottesville rock climbing and getting bad haircuts, I took the Amtrak train back up to DC for a weekend visit with my graduate school and internship friends.

Red velvet cake and my long lost friend from my Carter Center internship days.

Yes, it’s crazy, most people with Master’s degrees in international relations end up in DC. Something about jobs? I’m the girl who chose mountains over a career tangibly using my Master’s degree, and so far it’s been working out pretty well, other than the fact that some of my favorite people in the world moved away from Denver. I think I’ve whined enough on this blog before about how I went to 15 going away parties last summer (I kid you not), so we’ll just move on to my weekend activities!

I got to see so many of my friends from Denver like my old roommate Shreya, my ski amigo Jonathan, my Bachelor watching partner Sarah, my former mansion living friend Matt and my friend Liz who I interned with at The Carter Center in fall 2010. Things that make me feel old: the fact that my internship at The Carter Center was two years ago this fall. My how things change.

Liz and I in Atlanta circa 2010. Still miss that fall foliage.

Vintage grad school. The first night I met the ladies who changed my life forever.

My grad school and Atlanta friends have been with me through a lot of those crazy figuring out life in your early 20s ups and downs, and it was like a breath of fresh air to see these folks again. They definitely showed me a good time in DC too. On Friday night we went to a bar called ChurchKey, which had a stellar beer list and cool atmosphere. As a Colorado beer aficionado, I definitely appreciated that.

I woke up to the next morning to homemade chocolate chip pancakes by Shreya.  It was a good thing we had such a hearty breakfast, because we had a big day ahead. After getting ready, we headed out to the Eastern Market, an open air market held on the weekends.  There was a lot of awesome jewelry, furniture and food.  It was every girl’s dream and every guy’s nightmare basically. We saw a lot of poor boyfriends being dragged around the market who looked fairly miserable. We then had lunch at Founding Farmers and did the touristy, monument loop.

I’m so glad the guy who took this picture made sure the marble base of the statue was featured. Clearly that’s what we went to the Lincoln memorial for.

Intervention time. Thanks to Liz for including Abe!

MLK Jr., one of the newest monuments.

Jefferson Memorial.

Me and TJ.

DC chilling.

I’m pretty sure we walked seven miles during the day.  On Saturday night we all went out to a wine bar and Bar Pilar in the U Street area. I sound really knowledgeable about DC right? I had some good teachers. We had a late night again that ended with some jumbo pizza slices, but we still rallied the next morning for another full day of DC before I had to fly back to Denver.


 Kayaking the Mac.

We made one final stop in Georgetown for cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes before heading back to the airport. The frosting on the cupcakes was light, fluffy and amazing. My friend Sarah said she could eat it by the spoonful, and I would agree.  I felt pretty sorry for the people I sat next to on my flights back, because I can only assume I smelled like delicious Potomac River water. I also was totally the girl who brought Chipotle to eat on the plane. No shame.

I’m now back in Denver, and while my life is absolutely out West, I can’t deny that I don’t hate DC. I don’t hate DC at all, and I for sure have a lot of great friends out there. I will be back.

DC love on the Potomac River shore.

I admit it – I don’t hate DC.