Camping at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Our second camping trip of the summer took us to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We arrived at the park on a Friday afternoon and set up the tent just in time for the rain to start.  It only rained for a few hours and gave us enough time to check out the sand dunes before dinner.  Apparently, we brought the one type of sled that doesn’t work for sledding down the dunes!  Sorry boys!  We will have to remember that for next time!

The next morning it was warm and sunny…the perfect day to hit the dunes.  I decided to climb up the 699′ High Dune while the boys played in Medano Creek and Chris attempted to catch up on some reading in the shade.  The hike up High Dune was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever done, but I made it.  The view from the top was well worth it!  While I was hiking, Henry was working on his Junior Ranger badge and is now sworn in to protect nature.  We headed back to the campsite just in time for more rain to come.  After it stopped raining, we headed over to do the Dunes Overlook Trail, which you can read more about on the boys hiking blog.  We had just enough time to eat dinner before the rain started again.  It quickly became clear that this rain was not going to let up.  We finally gave up any hopes of sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and headed to bed early.  It pretty much rained all night!

We only stayed for two nights, but we could have easily stayed for longer.  Well…I can say that now that we are home and dry.

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Trip to Pittsburgh June 2014

We just got back from visiting Aunt Tracy, Uncle Rich and cousin Elliott in Pittsburgh.

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Camping at Spruce Grove

Pictures from our first camping trip of 2014 at Spruce Grove Campground.  This is easily one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve stayed at in Colorado.  We were in site 24, which provided some shade.  Most of the sites were very exposed and this campsite was PACKED.  The walk-in sites looked amazing, but if you have a lot of gear, that walk to get to them might be a pain!  It was freezing at night.  There was  a trailhead right in our campground, so you can read about the hike we did at our hiking blog: Kids Hike Colorado.

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Christmas 2013

A few pictures from Christmas this year.

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Santa

We’ve gone to Tagawa Gardens every year to see Santa Claus.  Beside being pretty positive this Santa is the real deal, he also brings his reindeer, carolers and sometimes even the Denver Bronco Cheerleaders.  As the boys get older, I’m feeling like this part of Christmas will be going away soon (the Santa part…the Denver Broncos cheerleaders part is just starting…) Let’s reminisce, shall we?

I love that they’ve seen the same Santa (like I said, the real deal) every year since they were born.  This year was another fun year at Tagawa.  Because of basketball and karate, we were late getting there this time, but we had cheerleaders, reindeer and even Miles from the Denver Broncos to entertain us while we waited.

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Halloween 2013

Wow…I’ve been sucking at updating our website.  Here’s the boys at Halloween this year.  They wanted to be a Peashooter and a Sunflower from Plants vs. Zombies.  I went with the paper mache on a balloon technique again this year, since I could work with much smaller balloons than last year!  The costumes were pretty easy to make this time.  Henry insisted that his Sunflower costume be a mask, but he threw a wrench into our plans when he decided that the costume should NOT be a mask when he wore it to school for his Halloween party.  We duct-taped it to the top of a bicycle helmet and called it good.  We should have done the same thing with Steven’s, because his constantly fell, covering his face, while he was trick-or-treating.  Our original plans were that I would also dress up as Crazy Dave and Chris would be a zombie, but we just ran out of time!

 

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Weekend in Summit County

This past weekend we headed up to Summit County to attend a wedding.  We decided to turn it into a fun little vacation while we were there.  Our first stop on Friday morning was the Breck Summer Fun Park.  It is pretty pricey, but so much fun!  We parked in downtown Breckenridge and took the free gondola ride to the Fun Park.  The boys LOVED the gondola ride.  Seriously.  LOVED.  I think we could have headed back down the mountain and they would have thought the gondola ride *was* the fun park.

The Fun Park is really awesome.  There is so much to do there!  I don’t think there is a kid alive who wouldn’t love it.  My advice, which we learned the hard way, is to get there early and hit the Gold Runner Coaster and the Alpine Slide first!  Then take your time with all the other things.  We did the maze, the bouncy house and the bungee trampolines and we were next in line for the Coaster when a storm rolled in and the park closed down for the rest of the day.  Boooo!  But we had lunch at the restaurant there, hoping for the rain to stop.  One cool thing about the Park was that they refunded some of our money.  Since we bought a day pass, they took off the attractions we had done and refunded the rest of the ticket pass.  Pretty cool deal.  We found ourselves stranded at the park (in the pouring rain) with another shuttle still 45 minutes away.  The chef at the One Ski Hill Resort was setting up the restaurant for a wedding rehearsal and noticed us standing outside in the rain.  He called for one of the resort shuttles to take us back to our car.  Wow!  Awesome customer service and we weren’t even customers!

After finally getting back to our car, we headed to our condo in Keystone which would be home for the next three days.  We had an awesome condo with a great view of trees and nearby mountains.  We were also close to a trail that ran along the Snake River, so once the rain stopped, we headed down there to do some exploring.

Saturday we had planned to go hiking.  Since we were already in the mountains, we didn’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn, so we took advantage of it.  We still had to leave early, as we had seen evidence of those mountain storms rolling in the day before!  We did the Mayflower Gulch trail.  Here are a few pictures, but you can see a lot more at our hiking blog Kids Hike Colorado.

After the hike, it was time to get ready for the wedding!  My friend Heather was getting married at Arapahoe Basin at the top of Black Mountain.  We arrived to find out we would be taking the ski lift up to the ceremony!  That was kind of fun!  Of course the weather held out just long enough for the guests to be seated before the skies opened up and started raining!  The ceremony was quickly moved inside, but it was still a beautiful wedding and a great party!

Sunday morning we were heading back home, but not before heading back to the Breck Summer Fun Park to give that coaster a try!  This time, we just bought tickets for the coaster.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN!  The boys loved it, and so did we!  After that, we met some friends who live in the area for breakfast and headed home.  What an awesome weekend!  I’m ready to move to the mountains.  Now I just have to convince my husband.

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Castlewood Canyon State Park

Nana was visiting from Canada, so we decided to take her to one of our favorite places in Colorado, Castlewood Canyon State Park.  The park is near to us, and has been used many a time for our Christmas card pictures!

As soon as we got to the park, a huge storm cloud was rolling in.  Since it looked like it was promising rain, we couldn’t complain.  Colorado desperately needs some rain!  We had a picnic in the now-chilly pavillons and let the boys play on the playground for awhile.  We then drove over the the Bridge Canyon Overlook and walked the paved trail to gawk at the views.  I never get tired of this place!  I won’t mention how Nana’s walking cane tumbled over the side of the overlook down into the canyon and a certain someone had to rock climb down to the bottom to find the cane.

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Gozling’s first ski trip!

We finally decided it was time to get the boys on skis for the first time!  A lot of people in Colorado get their kids on skis as soon as they are potty-trained, but for our boys, we knew they weren’t going to enjoy it, until it was their idea.  So as soon as they asked, we booked it!  We decided to try Ski Cooper, since it’s about 1/2 the cost of some of the bigger resorts.    And we are all about saving money if we aren’t sure the boys are going to like it!

Ski Cooper was pretty nice.  It’s a little farther away than some of the other resorts, but like I said…MUCH CHEAPER.  Our adult lift tickets were $45/each (compared to $95 at Breckenridge) and the boys’ ski school was $85, including equipment and lunch (compared to $207 at Breck!)  The mountain is small, but so were the crowds.  There were times when we were doing runs and we were the only people around.  Pretty nice, especially for someone like me who needs LOTS of room to make a turn!

Steven checks out his gear at Panda Patrol

Steven checks out his gear at Panda Patrol

As for ski school, Ski Cooper really needs to work on streamlining their check-in procedure.  We got there at 8:45 for our 10:00 lesson, and the boys were just finished getting their equipment at that time.  I don’t know if they were short-staffed or just confused, but that process was a big mess!  But at 10:00 (ok, really 10:15…they started late) the boys went off with their instructors for the day and Chris and I headed for the chairlift.

Five hours without the kids?  WOOOO!

Five hours without the kids? WOOOO!

OK, confession time…I haven’t been on a snowboard for about four years (and that experience was less than stellar!) and it was about 15 years since I had been on skis.  For whatever reason, I’ve decided that I’m switching to skis, because it somehow seemed like it would be easier than boarding.  It wasn’t.  As soon as we got on the lift, I started to panic that I had no idea what I was getting into.  My first run was pretty sketchy.  And SSSSSSSSS-LLLLLLLLLLL-OOOOOOOOOO-WWWWWWWW.  I felt bad for Chris who hadn’t lost any of his boarding skills, and was constantly waiting for me.  But once I got the swing of things, I was OK.  Mediocre.  Average.  Chris, on the other hand was awesome, and ended up lapping me a few times on runs.

Michelle...great day to be on the mountain!

Great day to be on the mountain!

Slooooowly working my way down the hill.

Slooooowly working my way down the hill.

Chris boarding.  He was awesome.  I was pretty amazed.

Chris boarding. He was awesome. I was pretty amazed.

Show off

Show off

Chris

Chris

Michelle

Michelle

Chris

Chris

 

Waiting for Michelle...again...

Waiting for Michelle…again…

On the lift

On the lift

 

I could barely make it down the mountain on the last run.  My legs were DONE.  Luckily, it was time to pick up the boys from Panda Patrol anyway.  We were able to watch the boys take their last run down the slope before joining us.  Steven seemed to really enjoy it and was doing pretty awesome.  Henry seemed grumpy that he couldn’t go on the chairlift.  He was also pretty grumpy that he couldn’t go snowboarding, but Cooper only offers kid’s boarding lessons on weekends, and we were there on a Tuesday.  They both said that they had a great time and Steven says he’s definitely going skiing again, while Henry is determined to try boarding next!

It was a really fun, beautiful day, and I’m glad we finally did it!

Steven at Panda Patrol Ski School

Steven at Panda Patrol Ski School

Henry on the slopes!

Henry on the slopes!

Panda Patrol!

Panda Patrol!

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Sledding day!

We had a much needed Spring snow storm on Saturday, which left Sunday wide open for a sled day!  Despite having about 10 inches of snow in our driveway, there wasn’t much snow on our sledding hill down the street, but we had fun anyway.  Cosmo is a true snow dog!  As soon as one of us starts sledding down the hill, she makes it her mission to beat us to the bottom, or to run daredevil drills in front of us on the way down.   I’m not sure who had more fun!


 

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