Free time? What free time!?!?

All-smiles

Well, we’re on the plane bound for Mexico right now. It has been months of talking and slowly but surely getting to this point. We have spent the past six weeks staying with friends and family and enjoying summertime in the rockies. We have been at each place for a week at a time.

We had promised friends that we would keep everyone up to date on the blog and when we made that promise we had NO idea how busy we would be after we left San Francisco. We were sure that things would slow down and we were completely wrong. We have been busier than we have ever been but enjoying it so much we don’t mind it at all. Here’s what we have been up to over the past six weeks and sorry it’s been jammed into one post rather than sprinkled in with the rest.

First, we got back to Colorado just in time for a nearly decade long tradition of running the famous Bolder Boulder 10k with grampa. This year mom joined us for the first time and we took it easy, walking it so we could all stay together. I think mom enjoyed her first BB experience and might even want to do it with us again next year. There was even a major first for me during the race and we drank slurpees as we walked – awesome! Why didn’t we start doing that a long time ago! Waaaay better than gatorade! 🙂

We also got to celebrate my baby sister’s 30th birthday with tea at the Brown Palace and a BBQ at her place. She’s getting OLD! But damn…. that means I am too! Even in our old age, we still have so much fun together and I was glad we got to be there for her big day.

After our mad dash to get to Denver for BB, we were able to spend a little time relaxing and settling into our new entrepreneurial life. Well, relaxing is probably the wrong way to put it. But, we were able to spend time with our favorite guy, Grampa. After Bolder Boulder, we went back to his place for a little over a week and it was nice to spend the early days of post-“big kid jobs” with a guy that retired at 52. He is quite impressed that we were able to beat him by so much but then saw how much we are working now and wasn’t jealous after that. We would wake up early and join him for his daily 3 mile walk or, Frank would go for a killer run (oh yeah… forgot about that whole altitude thing – brutal!). Post walk meant coffee on the front porch to hear more of his stories or talk about his upcoming blog posts. He is so proud of his blog and I’m a lucky granddaughter to coordinate it all with him. He’s decided (and I agree) that posts with pictures are much better and he loves working on them right there on the spot with the laptop. After coffee and then breakfast, he “gets some sun” and lays out for about an hour each morning at 11:00. The guy is consistent. My entire life I have been jealous of his tan and we have plenty of pictures comparing my pasty white legs to his leathery, bronzed skin. An hour each day out in the Manila sunshine seems to be the trick. While grampa and I would get our sunshine on, Frank would be working hard to help his athletes and respond to their questions and workouts.

In the afternoon we would switch and I would go in to work while Frank and grampa would find a project around the house to work on. The stories from that could go on and on so I’ll let the pictures do the talking (for the most part). All I will say is these two working together are hilarious. Grampa always seems to get Frank into the most precarious positions, Frank gives grampa a hard time for it and I just smile as I listen to it and take pictures. They did some awesome stuff to that cabin that’s been waiting a long long time to get done (some of it almost 40 years overdue!). He’ll kill me if I don’t mention that in the summer there is a snow cone shack in town. I love snow cones and get totally nostalgic about them and all of our childhood summertimes spent at the cabin. So… I made the guys go get snow cones almost every day and it was great. They both gave me a hard time but guess what? They never turned down the snow cones that I brought back for them so I think they were secretly glad I was the one requesting them. This trip was so fantastic. We couldn’t have been in a better place at a better time. Thank you grampa!

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Frank-and-Max
Frank found an old friend along the course. (More like Max found him!)

We had a great time with our bff but after a week or so we had to head back to Denver so Frank could run another marathon (of course!). We got into town in time to cheer our friends on at the Boulder 70.3 triathlon and man… I forgot how much fun spectating is! I think I need to get back into it. Spectating is definitely where its at. Anyway, it was almost therapeutic to be back at the Boulder Rez with all of our friends and we had an awesome time. Then, doubling up on races, the following day our dear friend Jay and I went to cheer Frank on at his 20th marathon (-ish… he’s lost track), Revel Rockies. The guy is an animal and did great despite the crazy altitude to adjust to and challenging course.

The rest of that week we spent in Denver and did almost nothing but work. It was great to have time totally devoted to getting some really important stuff done! And get some really important stuff done we did! That’s where I finished up with the first draft of Travel to Tulum, which I am so pumped to share with everyone very shortly.

Wow, we’ve done so much and been on the go I almost forgot where we went next! How could I forget?!? Colorado Springs to spend time with Frank’s parents. He and his dad rebuilt their deck which was, of course a big project which provided me with time to get stuff done and work on the logistics for this whole moving out of the country thing. I guess that was creeping up on us more than we realized and I needed to get serious about the logistics and planning. Mission accomplished. They are very welcoming and helped me LOTS with my Spanish – gracias Armando y Nora!!!

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Back on the road again after a week we trekked up to Gunnison for a week with my folks. Okay, if you haven’t been to Gunnison in the summer, stop what you’re doing and head there immediately. And this year after all of the spring rain Colorado had, it is even more spectacular and beautiful than I’ve ever seen it. The wildflowers in Crested Butte are gorgeous and life just slows down in this great little town. We went fly-fishing with my dad and that definitely rekindled our love for it, especially Frank’s. Now we’re pumped to check out the salt water fishing down in the Riviera Maya. Thanks dad, you’re an awesome guide and I know it’s much more fun to do the fishing yourself than help out a bunch of dudes like us but we really enjoyed our time out there. It was especially fun to watch Frank come out of the water with his waders full of water! Those are the memories life is made of and we won’t forget that one.

The next day we got to do a raft trip down the Gunnison River with my folks and we had an absolute blast. I always get a little nervous before starting into one of those trips but our guide, Vito was incredible and we immediately began having a fun time and joking around. Frank & I even rode out on the front of the boat – didn’t think I’d ever do that! It was lots of laughs and fun for all four of us. As we were stopping at a quiet section of the river Vito said to Frank & I – Hey, I’ll do the Polar Plunge if you two do. My response… a very swift Hell No! But, what can I say, I’m a sucker for peer pressure and next thing you know Frank & I are trust-falling into the polar-y water. BRR!!!! But, so much fun! I guess it even looked fun because next thing I know Mom was telling me she wanted to do it and she wanted me to do it with her. So, like a funny dummy as grampa would call it… I did it again with her. There was much less profanity as I prepared for the second fall than the first. 🙂

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Okay… on to our last week… back to grampa’s! Moe (my mom) was going out there for a week over the 4th of July and we decided to join her for a little more grampa / Manila time. This time Frank’s projects got a little out of hand and he was super busy with that stuff. Moe & I went down to SLC to see grandma and family on Monday and gave the guys some space to work on a new electrical panel. Oh heavens, those wires were a little messy to put it mildly and they spent the entire day on that project. Then… this time we suggested to grampa that we rip out his current bathtub shower with a walk in. Reluctantly, he went for it and he and Frank began the project right away. The realized right away that the job was going to be WAY more involved than had been expected. We (Frank really) found out the hard way that the existing tub was a 500 lb cast iron s-o-b. Getting that thing out of there proved to be a miserable project and took hours. For days we were up until very late (11pm+) working on that dang thing. Now that it is done though, it is awesome! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to the shower upstairs after using that one. It was a tough project for our poor Frank but he did an awesome job and we’re all very thankful!

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After a 7 hour drive back to Gunnison followed by a 4 hour drive back to Colorado Springs and then the hour back to Denver, a night at my sister’s house and here we are… the three of us on a plane finally headed to Tulum! Holy Sh**!

One thing we noticed was that time flew by each week and we never had any down time. If we weren’t working we were out with our sweet hosts for the week having a great time. It has been a great way to kick off the summer and we are crazy lucky to have been able to do it before starting this new, totally unconventional, exciting chapter.

We are oddly calm about the whole thing and just excited to be in a space of our own (and in paradise at that!) very soon. I keep waiting for one of us to totally freak out but… so far so good. I’ll keep ya posted though. It’s bound to happen sooner or later. 🙂

Salud!

When to Visit Tulum

When is the best time to visit Tulum? I get this question all the time and thought I’d answer it here to help folks that are thinking it but are too shy to ask … 🙂

Our preference when traveling in general is to avoid high season and it holds true for time spent in Tulum. We like to visit places when there are fewer people there, it’s a little cheaper and more mellow. So, personally, my favorite time in Tulum is September/October.

Chilly Tulum Beach
He was freezing but he’ll tough it out for the sake of a good tan. Frank on the other hand wasn’t as brave.

Spring can actually be a little chilly (if you want some beach time). We took my 89 year old grandfather in February and he was disappointed it wasn’t warmer. (He even mentioned it in his guest post on his experience in Tulum.) While spring is chilly, summer is really hot (and rainy which makes it humid) – not my fave. It is still pretty warm in September/October but you have some nice breezes cooling things down a bit. You do run the risk of the tail end of rainy season encroaching on your vacation but we’ve had pretty good luck so far.

 

Tulum-Turtles-Sign
Till Now They Depend On You. The Rest Is Up To Them.

If you are in Tulum in September/October and are lucky, you might get to see the sea turtles hatch along the beach. That is a pretty cool experience but you have to be at just the right place at just the right time so it’s hard to catch it. Even still, I think it is cool to walk along the beach and see all of the nests protected by fencing to give the little guys a better chance of making it. (It’s a treacherous task making it to the ocean and even while in the nest, they need all the help they can get to keep predators away.)

If you do like to be around more of the hustle of high season, or need to take vacation when the kids have a break from school, Christmas – New Years is the way to go. I say that for three reasons. #1) the weather is nice and #2) for most of us, getting away from the cold of winter and escaping to somewhere tropical in the winter months is a-okay and #3) you avoid spring break in Mexico. Now, Tulum is still so low key that it isn’t anything like MTV Spring Break at Senor Frogs but, it is a little more of a party atmosphere.

My brother-in-law kindly reminded me last week that I am a fuddy-duddy for my age so maybe it is just me and my fuddy-duddy-ness that appreciates the peace and quiet of off-season Tulum. 🙂

Condos in Tulum
Get a deal on a condo on the off-season and all of this could be yours.

The other thing I quite like about off-season travel is the savings. You can definitely find better deals on airfare during the low season but you’ll save a heap on the hotels. Or, if you’re thinking about renting a condo, you can often negotiate an even better deal which is fantastic. (Here’s a link for $25 off your first airbnb stay too!)

So, moral of the story is… any day in Tulum is a day in paradise so you really can’t go wrong. But… my strong suggestion is to visit Tulum in the fall.

La Nave

La Nave has always been a must whenever we are in Tulum. The food is great, authentic Italian and totally affordable. The location in Tulum Pueblo means it is going to be a much better deal than the fancier options along the beach and the food has always been just as good. We usually go a few days into our trip after we’ve OD’ed on street tacos and tamales. (Cause I have my priorities and while I love La Nave… I would die for Antojitos de Chiapaneca. 🙂 )

But, I digress. Back to La Nave….

La Nave Tulum - Frank & Ash
The evening we got engaged – celebrating at La Nave.

The place is always busy but it doesn’t take too long to get a table if you’re willing to practice even just a little patience. The pizza is thin, rustic, Italian style and I highly recommend the Margherita Pizza. It’s heaven. Unfortunately, while we have always quite enjoyed the food, I do have to admit the service has been inconsistent at best. Again, a little patience will go a long way.

La Nave is a very large restaurant by Tulum Pueblo standards with a Nautical theme, making it fairly easy to find when you enter town.

La Nave FrankI will always remember; on my very first trip to Tulum I decided that I needed just one more Margherita Pizza before we left for the airport. We didn’t have time to sit down and eat so… we did what any pizza obsessed couple in a rush to get to the airport would do…. We waited until the very moment that they opened, ordered the pizza and ate it in the car on the drive up to Cancun. A little obsessive perhaps but, it was delicious and a fantastic way to end a beautiful trip.

It’s time.

Frank & Ash's Tulum Office
Getting used to our new office.

It has been pretty (more like totally 🙂 ) hectic around Tulum Traveler headquarters for the past couple of months. And, I think it’s time to tell you a little more about what we’ve been up to.

I’ve been talking about how much I love and obsess over Tulum for what seems like forever. Our friends and family know that one day we’re going to decide we’ve had enough here in the city and pack our bags bound for Tulum. On a regular basis folks will ask us; So… have you bought a place in Tulum yet? When are you moving to Tulum?

If you have been following the blog for long or know us at all, this will come as no surprise but… the time has come. It’s time to give Tulum a real chance. Actually, I think it is better said that it is time to give us a real chance. Frank and I have been gradually trying to persuade ourselves that doing something unconventional or even straight up crazy to most of the people around us is okay. It’s a tough thing to convince yourself of when for the past 30 or 40 years we haven’t known it any other way. Moving to a foreign country or even spending an extended period of time in a foreign country is something that isn’t even considered in the world that we are coming from. It takes a lot to try to shift that perspective from “how could we possibly do this?” Or “why would we leave what we are so accustomed to and comfortable with?” to “how can we not?” and “why wouldn’t we?”.

This is a huge step for us. It is scary for sure. But, it is something deep rooted within both of us and it’s time to give us a chance. Time to do something we have been too scared to do for years.

And… this is just the beginning! We are going to spend some time exploring Mexico on our way to Tulum and there are some gorgeous places that we plan to visit along the way! A few places on our radar are: The Mezquital Valley with volcanically heated hot springs waterfalls along lush jungle cliffs. San Miguel de Allende – a colonial-era city known for beautiful baroque Spanish architecture. Nearby Guanajuato, known as the city of colors. The walled coastal city of Campeche…. The list goes on and on and they are all beautiful places full of rich history and culture. I can’t wait!

I will be posting updates and of course, lots and lots of info on Tulum at tulumtraveler.net.

I would love to share this wild journey with you as we follow our passions. Sign up for email updates to receive my free eBook on experiencing Tulum to the fullest and stay in the loop as Frank & Ash take on Tulum and much, much more! And, please pass this along and share with anyone that you think would also enjoy it. 🙂

Tulum Office View
Office with a view.

 

BeTulum

BeTulum is the ultimate luxury hotel in Tulum.

It is this fantastic blend of the legendary low key beach vibes of Tulum with the posh designer ambiance of New York. Think luxury boutique hotel tucked into a beachside jungle.

32_Night_015BeTulum is nestled into the beach near the entrance to the biosphere Siaan Kaan. It is one of the very last hotels along the beach zone and that extra little trek to make it to the hotel only adds to the feelings of seclusion and serenity. When you enter the hotel you find an open air lobby with candles hanging from the trees and tiki torches lighting the sandy path down to the beachfront where there is an open air bar and pool along with a restaurant right on the beach.

You are immediately whisked away to a whole new world where the realities and stress back home don’t even seem to exist. Even just thinking about it as I write this it is like reality slips away and I am walking down that jungle-y path mesmerized by the sounds of waves up against the sand, people laughing and chatting as their silverware clinks against their breakfast plate.

They offers three types of rooms: Jungle, Arena & Ocean. 

23_Room_391All rooms have private outdoor showers. Rooms on the ground floor have a small private plunge pool and rooms on the second floor have a jacuzzi in the room. The main difference between the Jungle & Arena rooms is proximity to the beach but the difference is really only a matter of 70 meters or so.

There are two Ocean Rooms and they are on the second floor closest to the beach. They have a jacuzzi in the room and an internal winding staircase up to a private rooftop deck with outdoor shower and rooftop glass pool. The views from the rooftops are spectacular.

BeTulum is one of the few hotels on the beach with electricity 24/7, air-conditioning in the rooms and a strong Wi-Fi connection.

09_Beachbar_1136Beyond beautiful rooms, views and impeccably maintained grounds, you will find fantastic entertainment and dining experiences as well. They have a great beachside bar and even do fresh seafood bbq cookouts on the beach depending on what the fishermen bring in that day. You can enjoy your meal, morning coffee or afternoon cocktail in the restaurant or with your toes in the sand at a beachside table. They offer fantastic live music and dancing as well.

00_Details_185If you are looking to relax and pamper yourself, they have recently added an incredible spa right across the street. Which offers yoga and meditation classes, cleansing programs, treatments and several customizable packages. Just like the hotel, the spa is pricey but worth it. (Guests of the hotel receive a discount.) Yaan Wellness Energy Spa www.yaanwellness.com

If you are looking to indulge for your trip to Tulum, BeTulum is perfect for you.

*Photos courtesy of BeTulum

Guest Post – My Grandfather’s Tulum Experience

Grampa on the beach in Tulum.

This post originally appeared on my 89 year old grandfather’s blog – Grampa Currie’s Blog and I just had to share it here too. I have been trying to get that guy to go to Tulum with us for years and finally I took matters into my own hands and bought the guy a ticket! 🙂 We had an awesome time and I’m so glad he wrote about it.

My Granddaughter Ashley, had been trying to get me to apply for a passport, since Adam and Eve. I finally gave into her and got one in 2014. This took a little doing as I needed to find my birth certificate which was not an easy task. I was born in Pasadena, California and I didn’t know which hospital, I was too young at the time to remember and no one around anymore to ask.  So, I checked through Vital Statistics in hopes that they had some records, but it turns out that they had a fire that destroyed a lot of those old records a few years back. After a lot of research I was finally about to find the hospital and got them to send me a copy of my birth certificate.

Getting a passport is not an easy task, I had to make a few trips to the post office in Rock Springs, WY, found out I needed a photograph. Then had to go to Walgreens where I was able to get a special size passport photograph which the format has no other use but for passports (silly I know). Anyway, then I headed back to the post office just to find out that I needed an additional type of picture ID. Lucky for me I happened to have an old driver’s license which they were able to use. By this time I’m about ready to throw in the towel, why can’t they have all these things in one place to make life easier?  Finally I made it back to the post office with my goodies, signed a bunch of papers and gave them a bunch of money. Then, it took a couple weeks for the real thing to show up. For almost two years it had been sitting in my safe… all that work and not even one stamp on it. Time to change that!!

A few months ago, Ashley invited me to take a vacation with my 2 favorite Granddaughters, and Grandson in Law. I turned the offer down because I had just purchased 4 new tires ($1251.57) for my truck and couldn’t afford the trip. Much to my amazement, the plane tickets and 5 nights in a condo were already paid for… the trip was a Christmas present from Ashley and Frank. How could anyone in their right mind, turn that down? The plan was for me to drive to Gunnison, CO on February 3rd, stay the night at Karen’s, drop my dog Goldie off and drive to Jessie’s house in Denver the next day. Franklin and Ashley would fly in from San Francisco and meet at Jessie’s house, then we would all fly out of Denver the the next day, to Cancun, Mexico.

This was all great, except when I got to Gunnison, Karen asked if I had packed everything I needed, including my passport. I had just finished driving 7 hours from Manila, and I had forgot my passport. Can you believe that? The only thing I could do was to have Karen and me drive back to Manila, get my passport and drive on to Denver by way of Elk Mountain. Karen was more than willing to drive because I had just bought a new vehicle, with just 200 miles on it, chicks dig the new car smell.  Elk Mountain is the worst portion of I-80 to drive in the winter time, and this was no exception. The highway was snow packed from Green River to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Karen did a great job driving and we made it to Jessie’s in great time. She was planning on staying another day and then motor back to Gunnison.

IMG_2260The plane ride to Cancun was uneventful. Got into town, rented a car, 90 minutes later we made it to Tulum.  The drive was interesting, in Mexico they drive like they do on I-25 in Denver (Crazy). I was hoping Tulum would be warm, but it turned out to be quite chilly, it was “winter” so the temps were around 70’s. The Condo was really nice, a three bedroom furnished apartment. It had everything you could need, washer/dryer, a rooftop deck and a wonderful outdoor sitting area, and 2 bathrooms. We
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always had breakfast in house, Ash and Jess did a lot of chopping every morning… peppers, onions and potatoes. Franklin would come back from his morning runs just in time to cook up the eggs and for us to eat outside. We went thru a lot of hot sauce and salsa, It was nearly impossible to fill these three peoples bellies. Wherever we went, they had to eat.  Where I just sat back and drank Tequila.

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The town; great town, I got so I knew where I was in town by keeping track of the big ice cream cone and anchor in the middle of the walkway. The Mayan Ruins were amazing, we went to a cenote where the girls went swimming, being careful of the snapping turtles. We did get to spend some time on the beach, the sand was clean and white and the water turquoise. Jess and I were wading and she spotted a small stingray right in front of us. It wasn’t long before a bigger one showed up. We cautioned the people nearby, but they thought we were kidding. Those things are mean, Hombre!!  Remember what happened to the Alligator Man.

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Our five days are up and we are headed back to Cancun. Airport security SUCKS!!!!  I would just as soon have terrorists rather than go through Airport Security and Customs. As soon as we were ready to board the place Jessie realized she had lost her customs ticket which needs to be turned back in before leaving the country… she had to run all the way back out of the security area to get it, in the meantime, the rest of us had boarded the plane. The seat belt sign had come on and no Jess. She was going to be stuck in Mexico, hey not a bad place to be stranded with all that wonderful Tequila.

Ashley being a good sister, got off the plane and stayed in Mexico while Frank and I ordered a cocktail and enjoyed the inflight movie.  They would eventually catch another flight an hour later they landed in Denver and met up with Franklin and I as we were having a $10.00 beer at the airport bar.

Thank you Grandkids.

Tulum Ruins

When in Tulum, you must visit the Tulum Ruins. They’re iconic, breathtaking and … they have a sweet beach too!

A little history (just a little): the Tulum Ruins are one of only a few walled cities built by the Ancient Mayans and are the most visited Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, by far. After you visit, you will understand why. It is gorgeous.

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Walls surround the three inland sides and the ocean protects the fourth. You actually walk through a small opening in the walls when you enter and exit the site. Once inside, it is magical as you stand on sacred ground and feel transported back to a deserted world. The wall is an impressive 16 ft tall, 26 ft thick and just the side running parallel to the ocean is 1300 ft long.

Tulum Ruins

Tulum was the hub for trade between Central & South America and the Yucatan settlements. Archaeologists have found that the population was killed off by old world diseases introduced by the Spaniards but the site remained inhabited for another 75 years after the conquest before it was finally abandoned.

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A big part of the appeal for visitors is that sweet beach with the ruins in the background. Where else will you be able to swim in crystal blue water up against white sand beaches with ancient Mayan architecture and history right above you? Never. That’s when. Before you head down to the beach to escape the heat, take some pics with the ruins in the background and check out those views. Then, head down the stairs and get an entirely different perspective of the entire place.

Pro Tips:

  • The site is open from 8-5 every day. There is a parking lot just off the highway when you enter Tulum. The walk to the entrance is long but walkable or, you can take a small tram or pedicab to the entrance.
  • Most tour buses arrive at 11 so your best bet is to make your visit before or after that time. My suggestion is to go as soon as the ruins open because it is very exposed and it can get quite hot as the day goes on.
  • Bring your bathing suit and a towel to enjoy the unique beach experience while you have the opportunity. You won’t regret it.
  • Plan on being there for 1 ½ – 2 hours (more if you’re getting in some beach time while you are there).
  • Admission costs about $5 USD and there is a guide service that I have found well worth the additional cost of about $40 USD (you can split it between a number of people to make it more cost effective). And feel free to negotiate with the tour guides, whatever you do, please make sure you leave a good tip.
  • Bring a camera (I highly recommend the GoPro HERO Session), a sun hat, biodegradable sunscreen and a water bottle! (I’ve input links to my personal favorites.)