Monday, December 25, 2017

Colorado Adventure

Being in the middle of remodeling our home for the better part of married life with kids, we have not had the time or funds to go on many vacations. This year, however, after hearing all the tales of friends going on vacation and just realizing that we want to make some memories outside of our state, we decided to take the whole crew on a road trip to Colorado in October.

We actually decided to go last year, but that didn't happen. This year we made it happen.

Once Tom put in for the time off, the kids and I started brainstorming about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. It was fun to see them weighing all the possible options and see what places perked their interest. With the help of a road trip app, I was able to plan different places to see and things to do along the way. I had fun thinking of what we would need to pack, what we would do for meals (breakfast at the hotel, lunch from the cooler and containers kept on the back of the van, and dinners out), and what we would do during the drives.

After the final things were packed that Saturday morning, obligatory beginning road trip picture taken, we loaded up, handed out fun trip-binders and some magnetic toys and we were off!






Day 1 - Flagstaff, AZ to Durango, CO (10/7/17)
Stop #1
Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks - Right outside Tuba City, about an hour away, were actual dinosaur tracks! It was so cool to envision what it must have looked like thousands of years ago when these dinos were traipsing through the mud on their own road trip of sorts.







Stop #2
Four Corners National Monument - Yes we knew/know that it's 1,800 feet off the mark, but that is in itself a cool bit of history and how surveying has changed.



Typical lunch on the road.


Stop #3
Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - It was supposed to be Mesa Verde National Park, but we got there about an hour before they closed, not enough time to see everything (especially for the entrance fee). So we went straight onto Durango. We didn't ride the train, but it sure was fun to see it pull into the station.




Day 2 - Durango, CO (10/8/17)
Stop #1
Animas River - Since it was right outside our hotel, we headed down to play in the river before heading out for the days activities.



Stop #2
Pinkerton Springs - I had seen a review about it, but didn't actually put it on the list of to-do's. As we were heading up to stop #3, Tom spotted it on the side of the road and we turned around to check it out. Super cool!





Stop #3
Purgatory Ski Resort - It was the last day of their summer activities, so we totally splurged and bought each kid (minus Zac) a 5 ride pass (1/2 the usual cost!!). They mostly rode the alpine slide, but also enjoyed the zip line, rock climbing, and bungee jumping.







Stop #4
Ouray Hot Springs Pool - Wanting to unwind and rest after going, going, going at Purgatory (and the fact that we were so close), we drove an hour north up a very steep and windy mountain pass road to swim in some very warm (hot) hot springs. We got half-pricing there too because the water temperature was a couple of degrees colder than advertised. Yay for us!




Day 3 - Durango to Colorado Springs (10/9/17)
Stop #1
Durango Recreation Center - The Flagstaff Aquaplex was supposedly modeled after the Durango Receration Center, so we knew we had to check it out. It was soooo much better than ours - the water was actually warm (I usually end up in the showers trying to warm a chattering, blue-lipped little when we go to the Aquaplex), and the littles could ride the slides on somebody's lap or be caught by a parent or older kid! It was a great way to spend the morning before we got in the car again.




Non-Stop
We were planning on going to Great Sand Dunes National Park, but...it snowed...and some of the kids were tired. We just kept driving onto Colorado Springs.





Day 4 - Colorado Springs (10/10/17)
Stop #1
United States Air Force Academy - My Dad graduated from the Air Force Academy back in 1969 (or was it 70? I'll have to ask) so I wanted to show the kids where Opa went to school. The chapel is such a cool building.




Stop #2
Focus on the Family: Kid's Korner & Whit's End Soda Shop - The kids and I have all loved the Adventure in Odyssey stories. Visiting was a must. The prices at the soda shop were extremely reasonable - it looked like a place where locals bring their kids for a little outing or play date. I would if we lived there.




Stop #3
Amy's Donuts - Way back when the kids and I started researching for our trip, we came across this great donut shop that had an amazing variety and did field trips where the kids got to decorate their own donuts. So I e-mailed them asking if they would do a field trip for our family. I never heard back, so I thought it was a no-go. While we were pulling into the Air Force Academy, I got a phone call asking if we were still coming. We quickly added it to our schedule and enjoyed some donut-making.










Stop #4
Hotel Swimming Pool - perfect thing to do after a busy day.







Day 5 - Colorado Springs (10/11/17)
Stop #1
Garden of the Gods - After walking around the information building for awhile, we headed out to see it for ourselves. Immediately Sam spotted some deer or something and the big boys were on a mission to track them down. While they went hunting, Livvy, the littles and I went on a little hike and chatted with some locals. We drove a little bit further into the park and found another hike to take before eating lunch.








Stop #2
Helen Hunt Falls - A drive through a beautiful, quaint little neighborhood filled with the changing color of the trees led us to this beautiful waterfall. We hiked up to it, passed it, up the rock sides. We loved watching the kids test their climbing abilities and enjoy God's creation.











Stop #3
Red Rock Canyon Open Space - It wasn't quite time for dinner, so we stopped, hiked around, and found a little reservoir. To the boys' delight, we again saw some deer.











Day 6 - Colorado Springs to Eagle (10/12/17)
Stop #1
Colorado Wolf Adventures - When the option of seeing wolves popped up in our google search on Colorado, the kids immediately wanted to go. It worked out perfectly that it was right on our way up to Eagle, so we made the reservation and joined the wolf pack. 





Stop #2
The Barnwell's and Bricker's homes in Eagle, CO - Ever since my best friend from college Mandy Bricker, now Barnwell, married and moved to Eagle, I've wanted to visit. It's been a difficult trip to plan, especially with six kids - I really didn't want to overwhelm her, her husband Marc, and their two kids, Will and Ellie, with our sheer number. Several years ago, Mandy's parents bought a home just three doors down from them which they generously let us stay in. It was the perfect way to be there and visit without totally invading their home.





Day 7 - Eagle, CO (10/13/17)
Stop #1
Glenwood Caverns and Adventure Park - After a birthday breakfast for Danner at a local diner, we headed to Glenwood Springs to explore some caves. We took the tram up the mountain (which was super fun for the kids) and then we took the tour to experience two caves for the afternoon. Truly a fascinating experience!


 





While we were spelunking, Mandy and Ellie made Danner a birthday cake. I couldn't ask for a better friend!! They really made Danner feel special on his birthday! After the party, the kids relaxed by watching a movie while us adults got to chat for a bit. I could have used a couple more evenings of catching up.




Day 8 - Eagle, CO to Flagstaff, AZ (10/14/17)
Stop #1
Dewey Bridge - Deciding to take the more scenic way home, we drove into Utah and followed the Colorado River south toward home. Along the way, we came across this very cool suspension bridge built in 1916. Not too long ago all of the wooden members burned in a wildfire leaving only the metal framework. It made a nice swing and a place to stop for lunch.









Stop #2
Sand hill outside Moab - We stopped here about 7 years ago on our way back from Marc and Mandy's wedding. If you look past the piles of red sand that followed us home in our clothes, shoes, and van, it's a great place to run and slide.








Stop #3
Wilson's Arch - Another place we stopped at years ago. Since both times we weren't able to drive into Arches National Park, it made a great way to get a small taste of natural arches.







And then we were home. Eight days and 1,600 miles later, we were back home. We had an amazing time! The kids, for the most part, were fantastic travelers! There were a couple of over-tired and hungry crying spells from Zac, and grumpies from one or two other kids, but other than that everybody got along splendidly and enjoyed the journey. If only the same could be said for the adults on the trip. Unfortunately Tom and I had several miscommunications, misunderstandings, mis...that neither of us handled appropriately. It has kind of put a damper on my memories of the adventure. Thankfully, though, love covers a multitude of sins. We push on to grow in grace, understanding, and love. Grace and forgiveness reign. It's how all great adventures end. Right?