A Return to Colorado: Jet Boat Colorado Edition

I wouldn’t say I “feel the need for speed” but as we raced across the Colorado River with Jet Boat Colorado, I sure did like it. A lot. 

I had never heard of jet boating until a friend went to New Zealand last year and posted a video of her 45 mph adventure through narrow canyons as their boat barely skirted the banks of the river. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to try it out myself until I learned Jet Boat Colorado offers Coloradoans the same adrenaline-charged adventure as our Kiwi counterparts on a slice of the Colorado River outside of De Beque, a historic community nestled near the Roan Plateau and Grand Junction.


Monarch Mountain: A perfect family ski vacation

I learned to ski on a tiny two-lift hill within Calgary, Canada’s city limits. As much as I love exploring large ski areas, I feel drawn to these smaller homegrown resorts that are solely about the skiing without the pomp, circumstance and inflated prices. A place where everyone knows your name…and that I don’t drink beer and my name is not Norm.

Monarch Mountain is such a place. Located 150 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, this small ski resort has soaring elevations, stellar family terrain, unbeatable views and big snow (it is second only to Wolf Creek for the biggest snow totals in Colorado). Unlike Summit County’s sardine-packed resorts, Monarch has no neighbors and there’s nothing fake about it—including the all-natural snow.

Click here to keep reading about our many adventures on the mountain, as well as our glorious stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

A shift in direction

I’ve felt a changing in the winds regarding my career for a while now. So much has evolved in the blogosphere from The Early Days. Blogging was about story- and truth-telling…about making real online connections. Now in the days of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. it’s not about great writing, it’s about a quick fix. The Instagram stars are the beautiful people who give a snapshot of their beautiful life with beautiful pictures.

When we decided to move to Utah, I knew I wanted to shift out of that space. My first love has always been writing about travel. My jobs after college were as a publicist for SkiUtah and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort as I worked with travel writers from across the country. I was the travel editor for a local magazine for a number of years and freelanced as a writer for a national travel publication distributed by the Utah Travel Council. I reconnected with both of these magazines upon moving here. The first was eager for me to contribute; the second was in the process of disbanding because the UTC had recently decided to dissolve their print publications, a huge mistake in my opinion. Much of the world has switched online but there is still a place for print.

While in Park City limbo, I was frustrated because I wanted to delve into my next path but didn’t have the time to pursue anything (driving kids 25+ hours/week will do that). It’s funny because life seems to happen when you least expect it.

Last February, we were at our Johnson Family Reunion at Estes Park when my sister-in-law Tammy casually mentioned I should connect her friend, Erynn, who ran a popular family travel blog, Tropic of Candycorn, and travel company. Erynn and I started following each other’s social media accounts and planned to meet when we moved to Utah early-summer. And then our move was delayed.  When we finally arrived here in August, Tammy invited us to her famous outdoor move night so I pinged Erynn to see if she’d be there…and we met. That woman makes me look like a homebody and has lived around the world with her husband and four kids.

Photo: Erynn’s Clan at Mashpi Eco Lodge

A couple of weeks later, she contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a part-time operations position with Mosaico Travel Services and I started this week! Essentially, I’ll be arranging custom travel for their high-end  (A-list and celebrity) clients to Central and South America and Antarctica. I’ll be doing operations and travel writing to start, with the hope of moving into sales once I learn the business and as they expand globally. And yes, travel will hopefully be involved.

I’ll be working from home, the hours are flexible so I’ll still be able to juggle Mile High Mamas and other freelance positions.

I’m super excited and the kids are, too; I caught Hadley googling “Five star hotels in South America.”  That girl is setting herself up for a lifetime of disappointments when reality hits but here’s to a fun new adventure!

Chicken in the Dominican Republic

Purging the house and my files has brought back so many wonderful memories. I was thrilled to find all my old columns when I was the Travel Editor at Sports Guide magazine, including the article I wrote on the Dominican Republic when I was invited on my very first “Media Familiarization Tour.” Basically, this is when publicists invite you to their destination, schmooze the heck out of ya and hope you do a good write-up on their venue. I know this process well because I did it both as a publicist (schmoozer) and as a journalist (schmoozee).

Welp this particular Fam Tour was hosted by the travel and tourism board of the Dominican Republic. Basically, there were about 10 of us on this adventure trek that took us all over the DR (read my story here). There was one other athletic journalist there who delved into the many activities with me but the rest were New Yorkers who didn’t have a clue. I was the youngest in the group and felt I was trying to set a credible reputation amongst all the other established journalists. Note: I said trying. Because it didn’t take me too long to fail.

We were traveling to the interior of the DR for a white-water rafting trip. The curvy mountain roads inspired much car sickness for the others so I sat alone on the back row of our van. Upon arriving at our destination, we ate lunch and then a few of us went back to the van to grab our swim suits. Because my gear was at the back of the van, I went first. I reached beneath my seat when something FLEW out, nearly attacking me. Instinct took over and in typical Amber fashion, I freaked out. And I mean freaked out by screaming, “It’s ALIVE!!!!!”

Now, I swear this is what I said. Witness accounts differ as they all attest I instead screached, “Run for your LIVES!” A miniscule difference in messaging, wouldn’t you agree? Regardless, I soon had the entire camp running from from some unforeseen beast that was going to devour us.

I should just end the story there and let you all think I was the hero and saved the day. But that would be a lie. When we crept back to the van, we found our van driver laughing hysterically, holding his pet chicken that he had stashed under my seat. Yes, a chicken. Unbelievable. I’m glad I didn’t speak Spanish because I figured out he wasn’t all too complimentary in his commentary.

So much for my “cred” among the other journalists. I’m just hoping that chicken we coincidentally had for dinner was in no way related….

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

Summer 2014 after we returned home from our Vernon, B.C. vacation, my friend posted about her family’s experience biking the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR). As they passed over soaring trestle bridges and tunnels that looked like something from a Grimm fairy tale, I mused “where is this place?”I couldn’t believe it was in Kelowna, merely 30 miles away from  our lakehouse. I became obsessed!

On one of our cooler days last summer, my dad, brother Jade and his two boys Jaxson and Connor joined my family for what was truly the most unique experiences I’ve ever had on two wheels. Originally built at the turn of the last century, the economic importance of the railway line decreased in later  years and by 1990 the last of the railway line was abandoned. Fortunately it was converted from rail to trail between 2003 and 2008, and re-salvaged after the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire claimed 12 of the trestle bridges. 

We biked one of the most famous and scenic sections–the 12 mile (24 km) round-trip portion of Myra Canyon to Ruth Station section that passed over 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels. Thanks to the 2 percent rail grade to accommodate the steam train technology of the day, this section is an easy hike or an awesome bike ride for families with kids. But not too young because I was admittedly gripping my handlebars a bit tighter every time we crossed a steep trestle hanging preciously on the sides of Myra Canyon.

At every turn, my mouth stood agape at the views of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake as the forest cast a pale-green lambent light.

I’d spent more than a year building up this ride in my mind and it exceeded every expectation. However I felt a letdown when it was over, musing “now what?”Until I learned that this small portion of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail is part of  a 600 kilometer (360 mile) trail system that passes through vineyards, orchards, forests, lakes, deserts and mountains.

Guess what I’ll be doing next summer.


In case you missed our other Canadian adventures this summer:

Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition

Oh Canada: The Canada Day in Raymond and Waterton Edition

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

Oh Canada: The Banff/Canmore Edition

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

 Oh Canada: The Edition Not in Canada

Ford’s #ExploreMore Tour from Durango to Albuquerque

A few weeks ago, I participated in one of the final legs of Ford’s 22-day Platinum Tour that stretched for over 2,000 miles from Vancouver to New Mexico. Though there were certainly more beautiful stretches (particularly through the Canadian Rockies and Jackson Hole), I selected to drive their new high-end Platinum Explorer from Durango, Colo. to Albuquerque, NM for the simple reason I’d never done it before.

Or so I thought.

Though Colorado is neighbors with New Mexico we haven’t made a road-trip down south, for the primary reason of why would we go there instead of our beautiful state? Yes, I’m a wee bit biased.

I talked about how I’d never been to New Mexico to my fellow travelers when I started to share a story of backpacking the Gila Wilderness with some friends during my single days and then I realized the horrifying truth: The Gila Wilderness is in New Mexico and I’d been lying to myself and everyone. Apparently, I need a refresher course in geography.

However, I’ve never explored this cut of it and it was a tour like no other.

Head over to Mile High Mamas to follow our adventures in Ford’s new top-of-the-line Explorer–from their multi-contour massage seats to cooked frog…it was a trip to remember!

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

How can you summarize a glorious week with family at a lakehouse tucked away in the breadbasket in Canada? You can’t, that’s why I prefer to document our family reunion on Okanogan Lake in pictures!

I chuckle when I see other family’s carefully regimented reunions, with every last detail planned. Their perfectly coiffed, matching family pictures. Ours is typical Borowski-style chaos. Wake up. Boat, kayak or SUP. Eat breakfast. Boat, play with cousins, eat. Boat. Eat. Cards. Games. Rinse, lather, repeat. Oh wait. Scratch that because the boys don’t shower.

What I particularly enjoyed about summer 2015 at the lake is the temperature–it wasn’t blazing hot 100+ degrees like last year. With temps in the upper 80s, I deemed it to be near perfect (for me, anyway; the hardcore boaters prefer scorchers). My brother Pat’s family is incredibly generous with their resources, time and patience bringing the rest of us up to their [trailblazing] speed.

A few of our favorite things:

Water play (duh)

Wakeboarding Hadley

Wakeboarding Bode

There’s never a dull moment with cousin Jaxson. Prior to tubing, we asked if he knew the hand signal for telling us he’s done (tapping the top of his head). “Sure!” And he proceeded to do the throat-slitting gesture. That works, too.

Driving to the West Side for our Annual Family Dive-off

Lakeside Movie Night at Todd and Kim’s

First Annual Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) Competition

When you only have one paddleboard, you improvise and have timed races. Pat won. As always. But he’s almost 50 and we’ll soon dominate him.

Pat the soon-to-be dominated

Lots and lots of cards and games

Bode’s Birthday

DQ ice cream cake courtesy of Aunt Sue

My favorite moment: globe light + sparklers = a magical birthday eve

Davison Orchard Tours

And their best peach and apple pies. Ever.

A truly epic bike ride on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Everyone Flying into the Rooster Tail with Guns Blazing

Not pictured:

A lot of laughter, Jane’s delicious cooking, Emily’s addictive Greek bruschetta, bloodsport croquet (we broke Dad’s new mallets), Hadley’s first all-girl dance party on the boat, early-morning kayak runs, nighttime tales of the lake monster Ogopogo, Tim Horton’s Timbits, Rook tournaments, Screamers (half ice cream, half Slurpee) and the Borowski’s epic wakeboarding moves.

Jamie and I had a competition with my younger brother Jade in surfing (we called it The Worst of the Worst). I thought for sure I would win but after popping up my first try and successfully surfing the wake, I cracked and started regressing while Jamie and Jade got better, even dropping the rope and surfing on their own.

Near the end of the week, I’d only been out a few times and was downright frustrated until my sister-in-law Jane shouted out at me, “Do you know what your problem is? You’re not having fun!” She was right. I was so focused on surpassing the boys that my failures were getting the best of me. That very next attempt, I fought my way out of the water and had my best surf of the entire week. Turns out having fun IS the key!

I loved seeing my kiddos progress on the water–Bode popped back up on his wakeboard and Hadley started carving. She tried surfing by herself on the very first day and with Jane’s assistance in the water, was able to get up and surf a bit. She showed no interest in trying again until the very last night. When you have avid boaters, you have to be bold with getting your own time on the water so I asked Pat if we could do one last run before dark, which he kindly acquiesced. I had a great run and wanted to go again until Hadley asked if she could try surfing again.

This time, she said she wanted to do it completely on her own without Jane in the water and my gosh, if that girl of mine didn’t pop up and surf the wake. It was one of my proudest moments at the lake…and then a reminder that she’ll probably surpass me in the Worst of the Worst surfing competition next year and I’ll still be at the bottom of the bucket.

It’ll be worth it.


In case you missed our other Canadian adventures this summer:

Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition

Oh Canada: The Canada Day in Raymond and Waterton Edition

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

Oh Canada: The Banff/Canmore Edition

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

 Oh Canada: The Edition Not in Canada

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

The kids and I generally spend a couple of weeks in Calgary before our family reunion in Vernon, B.C. With the 2015 calendar, our lakehouse dates were moved up by a week, which prompted me to skip our fun 4th of July celebrations in Denver and enjoy Canada Day in the Motherland (read about that here).

Calgary is truly one of the great cities in the world and I’d move back there in an instant. We had a glorious couple of weeks spending time with my family at our favorites haunts that included biking with dad.

My own 30-mile ride along Calgary’s extensive network of bikepaths where I was thrilled to see many of the flood-damaged trails were repaired.

The charming Millarville Farmer’s Market, followed by a drive through the Canadian countryside to Elbow falls in Kananaskis Country.

The not-so charming mudpits.

And then cleaning ourselves off after in Fish Creek.

Followed by ice cream at Annie’s Bakery & Cafe at adjacent Bow Valley Ranche.

Pedicures with Grandma.

And, of course, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth: The Calgary Stampede!

Their unique fair food makes headlines and some of our favorites were these Gourmet Ice Pops with delicious frozen dulce caramel cream combined with a mini donut. My brother-in-law Fred had the artery-clogging Deep Fried Donut Bacon Cheeseburger.

Good thing we were on the grounds playing for 12 loooong hours and worked (some of it) off.

But the real highlight of Stampede was that crazy girl of mine. We laughed until we cried at the hypnotist show last year so imagine my surprise when that brazen girl of mine volunteered! I’ll admit I’ve always been tempted but I embarrass myself when I’m fully conscious…why tempt fate?

Closer view:

In the end, she (and a few others) ended up getting sent back to their seat because she was only partially put under, which has given her a new goal for next year.

Heaven help us all!


In case you missed our other Canadian adventures this summer:

Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition

Oh Canada: The Canada Day in Raymond and Waterton Edition

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

Oh Canada: The Banff/Canmore Edition

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

 Oh Canada: The Edition Not in Canada


Oh Canada: The Canada Day Edition

I have a ton of other projects I want to launch but I can’t get stared on them until I dedicate at least a few blog posts to the glory that was our Canadian summer.

So, where did we leave off? Oh yes, with Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition where the kids and I drove from Denver to southern Alberta where we had an absolute blast with my BFF Stacey’s sister’s family in Southern Alberta.  I published that post July 13; let’s just say I’m a bit belated on the follow-up.

The next day was Canada Day, the national day of Canada like unto the 4th of July but with a lot more maple leaves.  My mom grew up in Raymond, a dear town that was the center of all things Mormon and the setting of so many weekends and holidays in my childhood years. I can’t say I always appreciated this sleepy town (being the big city gal that I was) but I always treasured time spent on my grandparent’s farm and with them, truly some of the most caring and loving people I’ve ever met.

The Parade

I haven’t been back to Raymond since my grandmother’s funeral in 2000 and I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotion I felt as Stacey and I showed my kids around.

We started with the Raymond parade. We’re not parade people so my kids were less-than enthused about going but I promised the Raymond parade was different at it delivered! Do: Bring bags to collect the candy because almost everyone in the parade throw it. Don’t: Sit behind Stacey’s nephew (a teacher at the junior high) because you’ll get sprayed with water guns as his students pass by on the floats.

My family is deeply rooted in Raymond but sadly, I no longer have any direct relatives who live there besides my cousin who has been estranged from the family for years (I won’t get into all that drama, from which I stayed away). He inherited my grandparent’s farm and I really wanted to visit but even though he’s my only cousin on my mom’s side of the family, I knew we likely wouldn’t be welcome. So we snuck in. My beloved barn was torn down and in its place a lot more of my cousin’s toys. We didn’t hop out of the car because we saw all the threatening life-or-death trespassing signs (yep, he’s a gem) so kept right on going.

The Grave

As we were driving back to town, we passed Temple Hill and Stacey asked if I wanted to see if I could find my grandparent’s grave. Honestly, I’m not much of a graveyard person either so was reluctant but I’m so glad she pressed me to do it. Stacey’s dear mom passed away in our tweens so she went to find her, leaving the kids and me to stroll through the rows of graves until I found my dear Wallace and Virginia Wilde. And then I burst out crying because I realized I’d never seen their grave and what a beautiful flood of beautiful memories it evoked.

My grandparent’s home

Cooking in my grandma’s kitchen. Christmas mornings. Dirt biking at the farm. Strolling the coulee with the dogs. Summers at the Raymond pool but never being brave enough to jump off the high dive. Playing tennis with Dad. Hearing mom’s wild stories of her youth. Daydreaming under the backyard willow tree and picking pussy willows.  Grandpa’s boisterous laugh and how he magnetically drew people to him. My spiritual, sweet and loving Grandma.  Learning to fly.  ”Ever remembered, ever loved.”


My Favorite Place on Earth

Prince of Wales Credit: First Light.

We briefly crashed Stacey’s family’s Canada Day party and then her brother-in-law Will suggested we go to Waterton Lake National Park. It was only an hour drive from Raymond and brooding storm clouds kept the crowds away. I didn’t care because I was home at my favorite place on earth that borders Glacier National Park in Montana

The only time I’ve taken my kids and Jamie to Waterton was in 2011. I’d built it up so much in my mind and we were going to unleash ourselves on the lawn of the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel overlooking an eternity of water…only something different was unleashed: Hadley’s tantrum because the girl was out-of-her-gourd on Dramamine from the drive.

Fortunately, this time was much different! Even with the overcast skies, Waterton stunned.

We picnicked beside Waterton Lake, strolled Main Street, ate huckleberry ice cream and made the steeeeeeep 1-mile pilgrimage to the top of Bear’s Hump and just when I thought the views couldn’t get any better, they did.

If I couldn’t be surrounded by my beloved parents, grandparents, brothers and aunts to celebrate like the Canada Days of yesteryear, this was the next best thing.


In case you missed our other Canadian adventures this summer:

Oh Canada: The Lethbridge Edition

Oh Canada: The Canada Day in Raymond and Waterton Edition

Oh Canada: The Calgary Edition

Oh Canada: The Banff/Canmore Edition

Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Edition

Oh Canada: The Kettle Valley Railway Trail Edition

 Oh Canada: The Edition Not in Canada

Family Activities in Moab

My family was fortunate enough to camp in Moab for Mother’s Day. Don’t miss our adventures over at Mile High Mamas including my mom fail on the mountain bike, surfing a sand sea and hiking iconic Delicate Arch.


For several years, I was a Salt Lake City-based travel writer and adventure paradise Moab, Utah was my second home. We rafted the Colorado River, mountain biked famed Slickrock trail, 4x4ed Moab Rim, hiked to Delicate Arch at sunrise and cooled down in Mill Creek Canyon’s cossetted swimming holes. Even after moving to Colorado, getting married and having kids, my husband Jamie and I would return annually to backpack Devil’s Kitchen in nearby Canyonlands National Park.