Landscape is consistently the hardest Shoot for the Stars category we have to judge, but we knew there was something special when we saw member Audry B.’s photo from Breckenridge, Colorado. She considers herself an amateur photographer and those skills helped her capture this magnificent moment and first prize! She tells us about her Vacation Quest trip and the fortunate events that led up to this golden photo opportunity!
VQ: How did you stumble upon this view?
Audry: We were at Sapphire Point, which is just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. It wasn’t a hiking trail, it was more of a scenic stop off the road. You turn off to an area where there are a lot of little chipmunks (people feed them, though you’re not supposed to) and you stand on this overlook above the lake.
We had actually gone there earlier, but it was rainy, cold and misty, so you couldn’t see it. We went out to eat and, in the meantime, the sky had turned clear and beautiful. So I wanted to go back again. We pulled up close to sunset and it was just amazing. You could see the mountains in the lake, as you can see in the picture.
VQ: What brought you to Breckenridge?
Audry: We’re usually beach people, but my husband had been wanting to go to the mountains. I finally agreed. We went with some friends and had a great time. We stayed at Lodge by the Blue and loved it. Would go back in a heartbeat.
VQ: What all did you do there?
We tried to take a different hike each day. Hoosier Pass was one of our favorites – it was gorgeous. The free gondola is a definite must-see, which is just outside of downtown Breckenridge. We hiked up to Sawmill Reservoir, another one of our favorites, to the beautiful lake. My husband went up to Mohawk Lakes Trail, which was a little harder than our other hikes. Our kids are young and we went with friends, so only the two men went and said it was amazing.
My kids were two, five and nine and went on all of the hikes except that one. They did great! The hardest one we did was McCullough Gulch. When we got to the top, a storm rolled in and hailed on us. So that was exciting. But it was so pretty with waterfalls, a big lake and snow-capped peaks.
VQ: You said earlier that you are beach people and you sent plenty of beach pictures. What made you submit a mountain photo?
Audry: I put it to a vote on Facebook for my friends. I posted about 10 of my favorite vacation photos to enter into the contest and people overwhelmingly liked this one the best. And it’s my favorite, too, especially with the colors. Most of the other mountain photos have the same looking blue skies, mountains and white peaks. But this one had so much green and depth, more than all the other pictures I had. People kept thinking this was from Europe or something. But it was real. We were in awe.
VQ: Where else have you been with your membership?
Audry: In 2005, before we had kids, we went to Key West. We didn’t use any weeks until 2009, when we went to South Padre with one child. We skipped a year, had a baby and went to Galveston. In 2012 and 2014, we went back to South Padre Island. In 2015, we went to Breckenridge and this year was Panama City Beach. We only take off years where we have babies.
VQ: So you obviously like to go on vacation, especially with your kids. Why is traveling so important for you and your family?
Audry: One of the things I did when I posted my pictures on Facebook was encourage people to buy into Vacation Quest. We were young, we had just gotten married, and after we bought the membership, we thought we had done something really stupid. We didn’t think we would ever use it.
But I have to say, it’s probably one of the best things we have ever done. Especially at this stage in our lives, I’m a stay-at-home mom and he’s a teacher. We could normally never budget these vacations. But being able to travel has been one of the best things for our family. And it’s funny because our friends that travel with us have a Global Connections membership, too. They had one before we ever met. So we’ve been able to go to the same resorts, sometimes next to each other, overt the past three years and it’s been so much fun.
VQ: How will you use your $500 winnings?
Audry: Well, we’ve talked about it. We live in Oklahoma, so that’s why we go where we go. We’ve always wanted to do the Caribbean or something like that. We’re going to see if we can afford flying for five people and if so, we’ll use the certificate on something big like that. If we don’t, we’ll probably do another trip to Florida.
Nothing wrong with that! Congratulations to Audry and her family on winning grand prize. We’re looking forward to seeing more stunning photos on future travels!