We decided to hit the road for Thanksgiving and rented a cabin in the Columbine Lake neighborhood in Grand Lake. What a beautiful place! We spent the weekend playing lots of board games, taking lots of walks, playing in the snow and sledding on the tubing hill. I’m pretty sure Grand Lake is straight out of a Hallmark movie.
Posts Tagged With: Colorado
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
I ran my second 10k this morning, Fans on the Field. This run is a great event for any sports fan in Colorado, as we get to run through the Pepsi Center, Coors Field and Mile High Stadium. Last year the run was full of glitches, but this year everything went really smoothly (except for a several minute wait to cross the finish line.) If my time this year is worse than last year, I blame that bottleneck! 😉
For our second camping trip of the summer, we picked Monarch Park Campground, which is near Salida. It was a long drive from Parker (about 3 & 1/2 hours) but it is beautiful in that area. The campground is really pretty, with lots of pine trees and two streams running through it. Our campsite (#4) was a tent-only site situated in the middle of the two streams and was huge! We had room for the tent and lots of extra room for running around and playing. Our camp neighbors were also from Parker, and had kids that were the boys’ ages, so they loved having neighbors to play with all day long!
And YAY! the fire bans have been lifted in Colorado, so we were able to have a campfire this time! We wasted no time in getting a fire going. Have you seen those super large marshmallows? I thought I was being Supermom by treating the boys to them, but they were a mistake! They were so hard to eat and impossible to make a S’more! But, hey, we’ve got a campfire!
The elevation at the campground is 10,500 feet, so we were expecting chilly nights. We were not, however, expecting the rain! Chris and I were sitting by the campfire (the boys had long ago fell asleep) when a thunderstorm started. We quickly put the gear away and gave Cosmo a quick walk. Not two minutes after climbing in the tent, the rain came POURING down. It was so loud in the tent that Chris and I were SHOUTING just to be able to hear each other. The boys are such great sleepers they didn’t even budge!
The next morning, we got another fire going to warm up and then we were off for a hike. (You can read about the hike at the boys hiking blog by clicking HERE.) After the hike, we headed back to camp and Chris and I got to relax while the boys played with their new friends. It’s nice that the boys are now at the age where we can give them a little bit of freedom to explore. Luckily, since our camp was surrounded with forest and streams, they didn’t need to go to far to get away from the parents!
Unfortunately, it also started to rain again. We were able to eat dinner, but it was just too cold and wet to keep a fire going, so we got in the tent. It rained ALL NIGHT LONG. As relaxing as the sound of rain can be, a torrential downpour on a tent isn’t soothing at all. We were freezing, damp and exhausted from lack of sleep, so we decided to pack it up the next day. We were supposed to camp one more night, but there was more rain coming, so there was no way we could get everything dry and warm. The boys were ready to leave too, which made the decision easier.
Monarch Park is a beautiful campground! Almost every site there is large and shaded. It’s definitely going on my list of favorite campsites and we are looking forward to camping there again. Maybe in a pop-up camper or rented RV next time? 😉
Have you heard of Run for Your Lives? It’s a 5k obstacle mud run where zombies run after you, trying to infect you with their zombie virus. My sister Tracy (a zombie freak), told me about it awhile ago, and what do you know, they just happened to be coming to Denver during her visit. I’m pretty sure she planned her trip around it. Still, it sounded like fun, so Chris, Tracy and I all signed up for it.
It was held at the Thunder Valley Motorcross Park, which wasn’t the greatest venue in the world (nothing pretty, no trees, and HOLY HELL, some steep ass hills!) Our wave was set to run at 11:00. We met our friends Kevin and Kelly who were running too (Kelly claimed to be (ahem) sick that day, so she wasn’t running. I think she’s ground zero for the zombie virus.) We had decided the night before to stick together as a team, rather than every man for himself. Kevin decided to join us.
I kind of had an idea of what we were in for, from looking at pictures on their Facebook page. I was a little disappointed with the venue, but it’s all in fun, so we decided to just enjoy it. Our wave started off pretty typically for a 5k, for about 10 seconds, then we were confronted with our first obstacle: a series of walls, which proved to be no problem for us mere mortals.
Then, suddenly, we are going straight uphill, UNDER barbed wire. At first, I was powering through like a bad ass, but then the steepness and altitude just hits you. I live in Colorado and I was gasping for breath. Tracy is from sea level and she’s just about keeled over! We had to go through a series of these steep hills before we finally reached our first mob of zombies. We all made it through the first horde without losing any health (in the form of flags hanging from our belts), but Tracy was really struggling and considered giving up. We told her to keep moving (there were zombies after us, after all!) and she could decide at the next flat spot.
Well, guess what happened at the next flat spot? A guy is having a heart attack. No, really. We get to the top of the hill where people are screaming for a medic and a guy is passed out on the ground having CPR performed on him. They performed CPR for FOUR minutes and finally got a pulse. It took forever for the medics to get up this hill, so thank god this man decided to collapse right in front of some very-qualified-in-saving-lives people! It was really scary and sobering. If Tracy had decided to stop racing at this point, I would have gladly joined her. But she decided to stick it out at least to be able to go down the giant slide. But, as we are standing there in this huge mob of people waiting to go down the slide, they make the announcement that there will be no slide for us, we need to walk around. Apparently, someone broke their ankle on the slide because there wasn’t enough water in the mud pit at the bottom. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but we walked around the slide and everyone jumped into the mud pit at the bottom.
After that fiasco, the course actually wasn’t too bad. There were lots of hills (some that were nearly impossible to climb without help), and lots of zombies, but we figured out that waiting until we had a huge mob of runners with us upped our chances of making it through the zombies without getting our flags taken. We encountered more mud pits, obstacles to climb over, under and through and of course, more and more zombies.
At some point, Tracy and Chris had all their flags taken, so they were officially infected with the zombie virus, but since they hadn’t transformed yet, they helped Kevin and I (we each had one flag left) through the zombie masses by acting as decoys. So nobel!! I will say that some of the zombies just let us walk by and only pretended to take our flags. I had one zombie actually whisper to me “Don’t worry, I won’t take your flag.” Pretty nice zombies, for giving us a chance to save ourselves. The zombies at the end were not so life-loving. That were AFTER US!
Unfortunately, by the last obstacle, Kevin and I lost our last flags, so we were all officially DEAD. The course officials announced that we had one more obstacle, which was a large wooden ladder that led to a slide into yet another mud pit, but they failed to mention the electrified fence we had to crawl under to get to the finish line! Luckily, my husband watches Band of Brothers every time it’s on TV, so I was an expert army crawler. Tracy got a little shock from it though! We all did the zombie shuffle into the DEAD line and accepted our medals.
I have to say this is the most physically demanding run I’ve ever done. (Although calling it a “run” isn’t really correct. If anyone was actually able to do any running during this course (except from the zombies, of course) then I didn’t see it!) All of us were completely drained and extremely sore the next day. It was really fun, but I don’t know if I’ll be in a big hurry to do another obstacle course again. Chris got a big kick out of it, and is ready to run another one! The Denver Post did a story about this race, which you can read HERE.