Thursday, July 30, 2015

Campfire Breakfast, Hikes, and a Picnic

This is the last of my posts from our vacation!  We spent the rest of our time out in Estes Park with Josh's mom, dad and sister.   One morning we decided to have breakfast via campfire!  We found an awesome spot right next to a little river and started cooking (well I didn't, I had the kiddos!).

The boys playing in the river.

We had to document us with the fire!

Josh expertly cooking over-easy eggs.

Just down the road from our breakfast spot was the alluvial fan.  It was more like a waterfall when we were there because of all the rain the area had gotten this year.

The kids LOVED this area.

Barry and Divana.

The boys had a blast throwing rocks in and climbing around.  This was a perfect spot for young kids.

We saw a couple of big horn at Sheep Lakes on our way out that morning.

I had heard that one of the trail heads (Lumpy Ridge) in RMNP had some really cool boulders to climb on, so I convinced Josh and the boys to check it out.  The rocks and boulders were really neat at the beginning and so I thought it would be fun to take a "short" trail to see if we could find some more.  Mistake.  Turns out the easy loop I picked out gained quite a bit in elevation.  We lived to tell the tale, but it was not pleasant!

Dave having fun at the beginning of the trail.  This was not the attitude he had at the end, haha!

On our last morning we decided to take it easy and do an actually easy hike in the meadows.  It was gorgeous out and the views were stunning.  Also, the kids found some pretty awesome walking sticks to use.

Ike and I heading out.

Super cheese.

Looks like Dave didn't feel like being part of the family in this one  :)

We then went for a picnic lunch with everybody at Hidden Valley picnic area.  I loved this area, very peaceful and calming.  We took a hike up the mountain to see where the trail went-had to cross a little river using a log, fun stuff!

Grandma D and Ike celebrating the end of the trail.

After lunch, the boys turned in their Jr. Ranger packets and were sworn in as rangers.  Funny story, when asked if you can feed animals, Dave emphatically said  "yes!!".  We sort of fed chipmunks at one point during our trip...guess that was not allowed.  Josh and I were frantically shaking our heads no to Dave and he finally got the hint to say the right answer.  Parents of the year!

Getting their badges.

We were so sad to leave Colorado, but I was definitely ready to be home after being gone for so long.  We stopped in Kansas again to break up the trip, then made it home by Saturday afternoon.  Love Colorado and can't wait to get back again soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, Rockies Game

After hiking on Friday morning, we drove Trail Ridge Road over to Estes Park (which was our base for the last week of vacation).  This was a very stressful drive for me, with all of the switchbacks and intense heights!  The kids had fun, and I think Josh enjoyed driving it again, so at least some of us liked it! :)

At the visitor's center.  Had to get the kids' national parks passports stamped (the passports are super cool by the way, thanks mom!).

Just a tad above sea level!  It was about 40 degrees with some wicked wind up at the top.  Chilly.

We finally saw the sun!  It felt so fantastic.

Dave had to play in the snow.

We saw a huge herd of elk way up there.

Once we got to Estes Park, we had some time to kill before our house was ready (story of this trip!), so we found yet another nice playground where the kids burned off some energy.  We settled into our new home and hung out until Josh's parents and sister got into town.  Saturday morning we were up bright and early and went out to Bear Lake.  It is a super popular spot so you have to get there really early to get a parking spot, or you have to take the shuttle which we did not want to do!

Walking around Bear Lake.  Gorgeous scenery.  Picture is a tad crooked-the rock I sat my camera on must have shifted a bit  :)

Sprague Lake.  I can't get enough of lakes with mountains in the background!

After our hiking adventure, we just hung out the rest of the day.  Enjoyed some beautiful sunshine, had dinner, etc.  Sunday morning we headed to Denver to spend the day exploring and to watch the Rockies game.  We tried to go to a restaurant known for its biscuits, but it had an 1.5 hour wait in both locations...eek!  So we found a different place for brunch then went to a really nice park.

At the game.  Can you tell we were roasting?  Soooo hot.

Love this one of the Bowyer boys!

The ballpark was awesome for kids!  They had kid-sized concessions (which were really just regular sized in my opinion) for cheap and they had playgrounds to keep the kids entertained during the game.  We stayed through the 5th inning, which was just enough time with the kids plus the heat.

After the game, we drove through Boulder and ate at a fantastic restaurant called Blackbelly Market.  It is owned by Hosea Rosenberg (any Top Chef fans?  He won season 5!).  Super delicious, and they were great with the kids!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wildlife in Grand Lake

I am pleased to report that we saw quite a bit of wildlife, especially while we were staying on the west side of RMNP.  On our way into Grand Lake, we found these fellas on the side of the road.  We thought they were goats until we asked a park ranger, who informed us that these are bighorn sheep!  And she was shocked that we saw these along a major road, so we were even more excited to have seen them.

Their horns weren't very big yet-she said that it takes about 10 years to get really big horns.

There were so many!

On our first morning in the park, we saw two moose hanging out by Coyote Valley Trail.  Josh was really looking to spot a moose on this trip, so he was especially pumped to see one so soon!

Here's a video of the kids talking about the moose.

Later that afternoon we were driving down the road from our cabin when we spotted a female moose with a baby.

So cute!

A little ways from them we saw a bull moose!

He chilled in this spot for about 4 hours.  We went to town and back and he was still there!

On our last morning in Grand Lake, we tried to take a trail and were surprised to find a ton of elk blocking our way.

These guys were posted up and I was too timid to try to shoo them away!

We saw a couple more crossing the trail we ended up going on.  Look in the background to see one.

One last baby moose and its mom after our hike.

We think that we may have seen more wildlife than typical due to the less-than-ideal weather we experienced while in Grand Lake.  At least, that's what we are telling ourselves :)  It was so awesome to get to see so many animals in their natural habitat and the kids really got into trying to spot them.  They loved carrying around their binoculars!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grand Lake

We rolled into Grand Lake a little early, so we went down to check out the main area of town until our cabin was ready.  We have been through this city a couple of times and it is really cute, with boardwalks on both sides of the main street and tons of shops and restaurants.

Down by the lake.  Still rainy!!

Had to get some ice cream of course.

I have a picture of me from our honeymoon in front of this fire truck.  Thought it was cool to have one with the kids now!

Who needs nature when there is a big tractor to see??

Our first morning we got up and headed into the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Absolutely love this place!!  We started spotting wildlife right away.  I am going to do a separate post of animals we saw :)

Dave using his binocs to check out an elk.  (We may have thought this was a moose for a while...oops)

Hiking on Coyote Valley Trail.  Great scenery and we saw some (actual) moose!

At Adams Falls.

We hiked a bit past Adams Falls because a ranger told us to.  Glad we talked to him!

Our cabin.  It was super cute and perfect for us!

Thursday night we hung out at the arcade in Grand Lake and went to a city playground.  Friday morning we got up early yet again and went to do another trail in the national park.

Tried to go down this one and it was flooded over.  We were getting a little tired of the rain at this point!

Ike was still having some fun though.  Just kidding, I caught him at a good moment.  The kids are so over hiking.

After we packed up we drove over to Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road, which was a touch nerve-wracking for me.  Beautiful, but it was sure dangerous looking!  We are now hanging out on the east side of RMNP with Josh's parents and sister Emilee until Friday.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rest of Manitou Springs

After my last post it started raining...and never really stopped until this morning!  And even this afternoon it is raining.  Ahhh, we can't escape it apparently :)  We did see some sunshine most of the day today which was wonderful.  Anyway, since it was raining, we went to Cave of the Winds.

Ike and I doing some caving.  

The boys exploring a little.

Dave really loved the cave!  Our tour guide even pointed out that he was the perfect size because he didn't have to duck at all.  Ike was pretty good for the beginning and then totally broke down towards the end.  Can't win them all!

View from the balcony at cave of the winds.

We went back to the penny arcade again and again.  Ike could not get enough of the cars and Dave really got into some pinball.


In tents.  See what I did there?  Couldn't resist!  :)

Tuesday morning dawned a rainy day, so we put on our hoods and went to the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings.  The picture above is Ike in a teepee (couldn't really figure out why they had a teepee there, but Ike liked it).

Thrilled about the fantastic weather.

We had enough of the cold and rain so we went to see Inside Out in Colorado Springs.  If you haven't seen it yet-go see it!  It was really great.  We headed out to Grand Lake on Wednesday morning, taking some scenic routes (some of which were quite frightening with the rain/fog!).  Will post about Grand Lake soon!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods

We made it to Colorado!  A big thank you to Joe and Claudia for letting us stay on the way out-and they even cooked us an awesome dinner!!  Our first stop is Manitou Springs, which is just outside of Colorado Springs.

The cottage we rented from vrbo.  It's super cute, and super tiny!  :)

The cottage is about a 10 minute walk to the downtown area of Manitou, which is really nice.  They have a great park and tons of shops and restaurants.

Playing at the park.

There are also fountains all over so you can try the water that made the city famous.  It is very carbonated, not my favorite way to drink water :)  The kids love sampling it though.  Also in the same area is a huge arcade.  It is indoor and outdoor and has tons of riding toys that sit outside of stores.

Ike taking a drive.

Playing a super old game.  I think it cost a dime to play!

This morning we got up super early (thanks to early-rising kids and a two hour time change!) and went to garden of the gods first thing.  It was awesome to get there before the crowds.

Part of hanging rock.

Family picture by hanging rock.  We were seriously the only people here!

Dave loved running around on the rocks.

Selfie with Ike.

View from the visitor center.

Ike found a tunnel

At the center gardens.

The boys running along.

Dave was practicing his parkour skills while we were there.  Here's a video.

Ike in a little cave.

We had a couple breakdowns from Dave during the hiking-he's been super tired and not sleeping enough on this trip so far!  He has a new attitude for this afternoon though :)  We came back from a great lunch and took some naps and are heading out to either the cave of the winds or a cliff dwelling place.