Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dipping our feet in the Snake River: Lesson Learned that the Internet Lies

I'm the Vacation Researcher in our family.  You know the one who researches where we should go, where to stay and fun places/things to do while we are on the way to the destination and once we are there.  I normally put together a folder filled with brochures from the Tourist Department and maps on how to get to places; I think I might have even done this for our honeymoon to San Fransisco twenty years ago!  Now with Internet searches and travel blogs, I have a plethora of materials and information for our trips.

However ladies and gentleman, this year I learned that the Internet lies. Really.  I was looking for some quick day trips from Keystone and saw a few messages about a "Mining Ghost Town" not too far up the road from our Condo.  According to the information I read, Montezuma Colorado is a town that once was a booming mining community, but now is nearly deserted except for a school house, gift shop and a great walking tour.
  

Let's just say it was nothing like what I expected.  In fact, it's almost comical to think about the difference between the image I had in my head and the reality.  One room schoolhouse vs. shabby falling apart homes with cars on blocks and stray cats roaming the streets.  No Kidding.  We never got out of the car.  You know my three rules: no cats, bats or rats.  Well let's just say that I have the feeling had we exited the car we would have encountered all of the above.

To rectify the situation, we decided to have our picnic near the Snake River and dip our feet in the crisp clear water.  We walked on rocks, skipped rocks and just had an old fashioned day down by the river.  Better than any Ghost Town could have been.


While this day might not have been what I imagined; it really turned out to be a perfect Vacation Day; relaxing and surrounded by beautiful sights and our family was all together.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Climb Every Mountain: Meet You At the Peak of Loveland Pass Come Rain or Shine


After our visit last year to Loveland Pass, we decided that we'd come back better prepared for the climb and the elements.  As you can see we had jackets, water bottles, Paul had his walking stick and I was carrying my camera around my neck; so you know we looked like real mountain climbers.  If mountain climbers look like Suburban parents and kids!

Who knew of course that once we got to parking lot the rain clouds would begin to arrive.  Guess we couldn't really complain because our weather thus far in the week had been spectacular and in the mountains you expect daily storms that pass quickly.  Our only concern is that you really don't want to be at the top of the mountain in a storm wishing you were at the bottom!


Mr C who was on a mission to take us all to the "top of the Mountain" was sure that the storm was not going to drop any rain and we should just forge ahead.  He might have said something about "checking the phone's radar" and realizing we had a mutiny on our hands if we didn't forge ahead, we made the journey up the mountain.  It really was a nice walk, the temps were perfect the sky was filled with clouds that were literally laying on top of the mountains.


When we reached the Summit we were able to see the Keystone Ski Slopes, the Eisenhower Tunnel and Gods' beautiful creation on every side of us.  A great Mountain Top Experience.


Of course ,we still had to climb down the mountain.  As we ventured out, Miss M tripped on a rock and cut open her leg and the clouds that had seemed so kind decided to open up and drop cold rain.  As we slowly walked  (careful not to slip on the now wet rocks and dirt), the rain felt like freezing pellets coming right at your face.  I never was so happy to have a hood on my jacket!

All in all though it was wonderful Climb up the Mountain and one we will probably never forget because of the "bad weather" experience.  Plus, now I think we have no choice but to return next year and try again on our quest to Climb Every Mountain.  We realized there is an even better view from the mountain peak on the other side of the mountain.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Copper Mountain: Soaring High in the Sky, Racing Around the Track and Putting it in the Cup


Spending the day at Copper Mountain is one of the highlights of our trip to Colorado.  It is a chance to try out a few adventure sports that we might not try anywhere else.  In fact, until this day, I never would have considered Miss M to be a Zip Line Enthusiasts, but now I know better.  Mr C who I consider to be a very cautious and safe driver can really rev up an engine and gun it in a go even if his little sister is sitting beside him.  Even P couldn't catch up to these daredevils.




Miss A led the way again on the Bungee Trampoline and she was thrilled when her big brother even attempted somersaults.  Who knew a six foot two boy could actually be a gymnast.  Since it was our second time to Copper, we finally got smart and brought a change of clothes so that after the bumper boats soaking everyone could change out of the wet stuff.  Smart Mother.


The Diggler again was a popular riding toy and Miss A is still trying to figure out how we can sneak one into our car next year.  She thinks it would be the perfect bike for the neighborhood and is convinced that she'd be the talk of the school if she had one.  Ever the practical one, I realize that the huge hill we live on would make this toy more of a challenge than it's worth.  Plus, having one to visit in Copper is just another reason to go on a Colorado Vacation each summer.


My favorite part of the day: walking at the top of the mountain with the girls while the boys were rock climbing and golfing.  I loved sitting on the Chair Lift and looking around, but I will admit I love Chair Lifts much more when there is snow beneath them.  Something about the rocky ground below makes me a little nervous.  However, I will admit riding the Chair Lift down the Mountain and seeing the whole town of Copper below is breathtaking.  Well worth the ride.


Next year, we have plans to actually walk down the mountain, but this year we scrapped those plans when it looked a little like rain and we it was nearing the time the Chair was going to close down and we didn't want to start on the journey, get soaked, and then realize we couldn't go back down on the Lift.


The best way to show you how much fun we had is with pictures: so beware it's photo overload today!



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Canoeing Lake Dillon: Lessons in Teamwork

We came prepared this year for our canoe trip on Lake Dillon.  We had water shoes, shorts that would repel water, waterproof bags for our phone and keys, snacks and water bottles, and a plan for who would travel together. We even decided to rent the canoes for a longer time so that we could explore the "islands" a little bit more and not be stressed about getting back to the boathouse before our time was up
.

At least we started out with a plan on traveling companions, but the kids quickly vetoed the idea of P and I in our own canoe with the three of them in the other.  Guess they figured out that we could easily ditch them and have our own adventure.

Why do we have such smart kids?

Leaving shore the canoes were:  P and M vs C, A and Me.  How is that I ended up with Captain C again you ask? I don't know. This year, I gave him strict instructions that I was the Captain of the boat and would tell him when to paddle as last year's fiasco of me doing all the work was still fresh in my mind!  Miss A again was our first mate and enjoyed her seat in the middle with no work involved.  Let's just say after our "three hour tour" I'm even more certain that next year there will be three boats involved.  Canoe One will be Mr C and Miss A; Boat Two will be Miss M and Dad and I'll be all by myself in a Kayak.  That way I can be in charge for real!  At one point, we did a partner switch and tried "girls vs boys."  The problem was that the boys kept beating us and rubbing it in!


You know what they say, "If the Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

In reality, we had a beautiful morning on the water.  We got to explore the islands, dip our toes in the Lake and take in the beautiful scenery on every side of us.  There really is nothing better than a mountain/lake view from every direction.  Amazing.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breckenridge: Mountain Town Where We Try Our Hands at Panning Gold

Last year, we were unsuccessful in paying for our vacation with Gold Nuggets, but that doesn't mean we weren't willing to try again.  Let's be honest; my husband is rather cheap so if he thinks there is even a slim chance that our vacation could be free thanks to a little gold panning he's willing to give it a shot.



For this year's expedition, we tried the "official" Breckenridge Historical Society's site and not some tourist site.  As an added bonus, the cost was 1/3 the cost of last years trek into the creek.  If for no other reason than the Mountain Man who ran the Lormax Placier Gulch welcomed us into the Prospectors Cabin with the phrase "Dude" I felt that maybe we might stand a chance of actually going home with golden nuggets.

Not only did we get to tour an official prospectors set up and see firsthand the tools of the trade of gold mining the mountain streams, the Mountain Man took us to his favorite spot and showed us the tricks of the trade.  We learned to dig out the creek bed and go beneath the surface; there was swooshing and moving of water and silt in the pan and of course we felt that unlike the crowded spot we tried the previous year that this year we were in a pristine environment for finding that hidden gem; the allusive golden nugget.

Mr P and Mr C were intense; they were on a mission to find something, anything that would put them on the map as official gold diggers.  Miss A announced early on that she wasn't holding out much hope and that more than anything she was a little concerned that the clouds looked like rain.  ( I tried not to envision Pooh and holding an umbrella and marching about saying,  "Tut Tut it looks like Rain!")  Miss M wasn't easily swayed from her task either.  If anyone looked legit in showing us how to find wealth in rocks, it was our guide.


Alas it was not our day.  We did however get a great history lesson in how the Blue River in Breckenridge was the site of some amazing mining during the 1880's and how the miners used water under high pressure , scoured the hillside and collected the dirt and sediment to recover gold deposits.  All of this using hydraulic power they created in the 1860s.  Amazing.


While we might have let the Mine empty handed we did learn a lot and had a chance to get our hands into the soil and water.

To finish our trip to Breckenridge, we took a Gondola Ride up to the Base of Peak 8 and had a picnic lunch and watched the crowds.  It is amazing how many people there are in such a small amount of space.  Makes us really appreciate our stay in Keystone.  The girls found a patch of Snow/Ice not too far up the mountain and we decided to trek up there and get a picture of this wonder of winter in the middle of July.

The most humorous part was that the kids had no trouble climbing up the hill of snow, but Miss M did a 'bottom slide" a fur piece down the mountain.  Much to her siblings delight.  Thankfully, she saw the humor as well.  Then since we were already "dirty" we took a trek around Swan Mountain Road to feed the chipmunks.


Another great day in the Rockies...but then aren't they all!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Worship and Play in the Mountains: Can It Get Any Better

I'll admit that our family is a little bit creature of habit/ traditionalists/routine lovers.  You see even when we are on vacation, we tend to like to do the same sort of things we've done before.  If we loved a place before, we tend to return and do pretty much the same thing.  For our second summer in the Mountains, we kept to form while still trying to venture and try new things.


Sunday morning, we were thrilled to again worship as a family at the Frisco Bible Church.   The message is always a winner and the view outside makes you abundantly aware of God's Majesty.  Fun to Worship God surrounded by the Beauty of the Mountains.  Then to keep the tradition going we went out for lunch at the Butterhorn Cafe.  Thankfully, this year we got a seat inside, but as it goes it rained again!

Our stroll around the shops resulted in Mr P getting his own walking stick made out of Colorado pine. Amazing craftsmanship and beauty in that little stick plus I told him it's a way to prepare for old age when he'll actually need a cane to keep up with his younger wife.  

The rest of the afternoon involved walking around Keystone, playing miniature golf and hanging around the Condo.  A perfect recipe for a relaxing day.  There were even card games happening that evening in the condo.  Can't explain how perfect these laid back days are for this weary family.  I don't even recall any fights among the kids; and lets be honest that doesn't happen at home! 


Day 1 in the Mountains; Can't get better than this!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Road Trip: Our Family Vacation Begins

Our family vacation begins with only four members;  Mr C has been in Colorado for the past week at Church Camp and after an evening with friends in Denver, we plan to pick him up in Denver bright and early Saturday morning.  As we begin our road trip to Colorado, I'm not sure if P is more excited about leaving work behind for a week or having Mr C back in the family to balance all the females he has had to deal with for the past week!

Now, I'll be honest and say that Road trips with my family are pretty easy; there is a built in DVD player, we have snacks, art supplies and Ipods at the ready for the kids and we make pretty regular stops to stretch our legs and relieve our bladders.  (According to my husband, he travels much quicker alone) I, of course, enjoy the time to just talk to P while he drives and I do everything from knit, read and plan my calendar for the fall. We've come to the agreement that in the car my husband likes to drive and I like to do everything else.


For this first part of our journey, we'd packed a picnic lunch and made plans to add a little history to our lunch break by visiting a site on the Pony Express Trail.  I thought it was pretty fascinating; the girls not so much.  Guess the fact that they barely use the regular mail today makes them think that horse delivered mail is very slow and boring. 

By far, our favorite part of the first days journey was our arrival at our friends/relatives house in Denver for the night.  We've nicknamed these friends as our Colorado Family/ Cousins even though the family is really old neighbors and kids I babysat long ago.   Now that they have all grown up, I consider them even more like family!   The best part of this visit is that we got to meet the newest member of the family; a sweet baby girl who shares her birthday with Miss M meaning they are even more like family.


It was a wonderful night of catching up and soaking up time together in wonderful hospitality.  I'm so glad that my kids have younger "cousins" that they can play with and spoil with affection.  Mr C was especially glad that this year his bus arrived on time and that Saturday morning he got to join us for a lunch date with the gang.  Bonus.

Before we knew, it was time to make the trek up the mountain to Keystone with five members of the family and a trunk now filled with smelly camping gear/clothes to kickoff our week in Mountains.


Summer Vacation here we come!