Life Out West: Months 10 & 11

Since I moved to Denver, I’ve been posting monthly updates about the ups and downs of life out west: check out month 1months 2&3months 4&5month 6months 7&8 and month 9 here. Most of these photos are from Instagram, @ashleyabroad– find me there for travel inspiration and mountain pics! 

Fall is here! The last few days in Denver have been chilly and overcast, but honestly, I’m loving it. I’ve been enjoying wearing sweaters, cooking fall vegetables and generally feeling cozy. Plus, for the first time in my life I’m not dreading winter- I love you Chicago but your winters are abominable.

The last two months were great but very busy- I was out of town almost every weekend. And my pace won’t be slowing down much- I’m off to Seattle next weekend and then traveling somewhere international in November- Nicaragua! I can only imagine how good it will feel to dust off the old passport again- I seriously can’t wait and have been spending way too much time on TripAdvisor. Oops.



Visiting my cottage on Lake Huron


My cottage on Lake Huron is almost a sanctuary for me. It’s the place where I go to recharge and spend time with family, and is more of a home to me than anywhere else. I’m so glad I squeezed in a visit this summer during which I went boating, played tennis and spent time with my family and most importantly, my beloved grandmother.

Mackinac Island


Have you guys been to Mackinac Island? It’s a tiny island in Northern Michigan that is truly a step back in time. During my day there I rode in a horse carriage, biked around the whole island and treated myself to some maple nut fudge. I felt nostalgic not only for turn-of-the-century America but also my childhood, as I visited Mackinac a lot as a kid.


Telluride for Pretty Lights


Telluride now takes top-spot for my favorite mountain town in Colorado. But seriously guys, it was SO beautiful. I spent long weekend there watching Pretty Lights, hiking, cooking and partying with friends. It was fantastic but my hangover on the seven-hour ride home was horrendous.

Seeing my Little Brother and College Friends in Chicago

Over Labor Day I headed to the Windy City to see college friends and my little brother. The beautiful September weather was perfect per usual. Overall it was a wonderful weekend during which I brunched, visited friends and tried to go sailing. It was too windy but we drank beers on the boat, which is almost as good.

Now that I think of it I didn’t take one photo while I was there but sometimes that can be so refreshing in my highly over-documented life.

A Work Trip to San Francisco


I was so excited to be invited on a work trip to San Francisco! While we had little time to spare, I squeezed in a visit to the Marina as well as a drive down Lombard Street. Sigh, isn’t San Francisco just stunning?

Tons of weddings

Okay maybe not tons, but three within six weeks is a lot, right?

The weddings ranged a ton in size and location- from 39 people to 150! One took place on top of Keystone which was incredible- I loved riding the gondola up to the ceremony.

Anyway, I was honored to see so many beloved friends and family tie the knot this year- weddings are the best. Is it wrong I was happy they all had open bars?


Booking international trips

Can I be honest? I feel like my travel blog (and life) lagged this year because I didn’t travel much internationally. Well, in 2015 that’s going to change. I just booked trips to Nicaragua (10 days), Mexico City (3 days) AND Iceland (6 days). I’m EXTREMELY excited about all of them.

I’m actually going to Nicaragua with Jessica from Curiosity Travels, one of my favorite travel buddies of all time. You guys should probably follow us on Snapchat (ashleyabroad and jessicaannwray) because there will be debauchery, to say the least.


Can you believe I was featured in Buzzfeed? Me neither. I was especially thrilled to be featured among many of my friends (Edna and Kate!)and women I admire.




Fractured toe.

I fractured my toe in the most ridiculous way- simply by walking a lot in Chicago in shoddy sandals. I probably shouldn’t admit that on the internet but why have a blog if not to embarrass yourself occasionally?

Anyway, being limited in mobility for three weeks made me much more grateful to my feet, and I promise to wear better sandals from now on.

Feeling harried.

I traveled way too much during August and September and by the end felt harried and exhausted. Not to mention, my apartment and blog were a mess. So now when booking trips I will definitely plan for more downtime to preserve my sanity.


Best reads

Although I’ve always been an avid reader, recently I’ve been devouring more books than usual. I particularly loved At Home: A Short History of Private LifeStir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home, All The Lights We Cannot See and What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding.

I’d also recommend my friend Kristin’s new new e-book, Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, which she wrote for women who want to travel solo. For those of you who don’t know Kristin (though I’m sure most of you do), she blogs at Be My Travel Muse and has gone on some pretty awe-inspiring adventures. She has scuba-dived everywhere from Borneo to Belize, and has hitch-hiked by herself in China. Which is why I so enjoyed her book- she really knows what she’s talking about.

In her book she goes over everything from how to save money before your trip (tips- become an uber/lyft driver and sell furniture on Craigslist with the disclaimer “selling everything I own to travel- your purchase helps me travel longer”) to safety once you’re on the road. I found her immunization chapter particularly helpful as I remember frantically googling which shots I’d need before my trip to Southeast Asia.

Anyway, if you’re a woman deciding whether or not to travel solo I would definitely read Kristin’s book- it’s 101 pages with a full resources section and case studies and priced at $14.99. It really contains all the info you’ll need!


Well that’s enough about me! How is your fall going so far? And out of Nicaragua, Mexico City and Iceland which are you most interested in reading about?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

26 thoughts on “Life Out West: Months 10 & 11”

  1. I am most excited to read about Nicaragua! And I absolutely LOVED What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. I read it after returning from my 3 month trip, and needless to say it made me want to pack up the backpack again and get back on the road!

  2. Ooooh I am so excited to hear how you fare in Nicaragua!!! I’ve wanted to explore the country ever since I studied abroad in Costa Rica and lived with a Nicaragüense host family, but I keep putting it off and off for another year. Please eat all the gallo pinto for me—seasoned rice + brown beans mixed together they eat for breakfast every day :) :) :)

  3. I’m currently typing this in Reykjavik! I just got in this morning and you’re totally going to love Iceland. Just bring a lot of money because it is expensive! I was also just in Mexico City over Labor Day weekend. In definitely curious what you think of the city. I liked it, but didn’t love it. Kind of “meh” for me. There is a really awesome food tour that I highly recommend and definitely do a trip to the ruins outside of the city. I love Nica! Beautiful country with lovely people. Can’t wait to read all about your trips. Let me know if you want any tips or recommendations for MEX or Iceland. Glad to see you back at it girl! I’ve missed your stories! :-)

  4. Sounds like you have some exciting upcoming trips Ashley! Where in Nicaragua are you planning on going? A few years back I stayed on Ometepe and Little Corn and absolutely loved both!

  5. Denver is such an awesome place! When I lived there, I never went to Telluride but I heard it was really beautiful!

    Congrats on being featured on Buzzfeed! Your blog was definitely one of those that inspired me to create my own.

    Your upcoming trips sound great!

  6. I’m really looking forward to reading about your Nicaragua trip, Ashley- I can’t believe I guessed that on your FB page haha! I’ll be looking to get all the tips for you ready for my own Nica trip. Are you going to TBEX?

  7. Iceland, wow! I’ve wanted to go there for years so I’m really excited to read your upcoming posts about it. And congrats on being featured on Buzzfeed – well done!

  8. Congrats on the buzzfeed mention! And Nicaragua sounds amazeballs! I feel like a zillion weddings is just par for the course since we’re now at the age of everyone getting married and having babies. Aahh! Sounds like lots of fun local adventures though, which can be just as fun as international ones! :)

  9. I was just in Michigan and I thought it was so beautiful!! I am from Colorado (near Boulder actually) so I thought I was from the prettiest state, but MI gives Colorado a run for its money! I used your Mackinaw post to help me figure out was to do, although it was a little cold to hike around. I live in Southern California now, where weather doesn’t really exist, so I was so excited to see and feel fall. The changing colors were beautiful! I can’t wait to read about Iceland, it’s on my bucket list for sure.

  10. Haha I lived in Chicago for a year when I was 21 and just went back to visit this Christmas. They’re having a very “warm” winter but I still froze my butt off. And when I was there I had 2 broken toes at one point and lemme tell you- ice and crutches do not work well together!

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