Woodland Park with The Faerber’s

We LOVE discovering new, cool places in Colorado, and Woodland Park is one cool town!!!  It’s just 30 mins West of Colorado Springs, in the Pike National Forest.  Gorgeous and just the right size (which means plenty to do, but not a big city)!  Add to that, decent prices, great weather, a dinosaur museum, farmers market, and cheap bars and we were in heaven!  We would have loved being here under any circumstances, but making things 1000X better was the fact that our friends, Chelsea and James and their sons, Tobin (3) and Quay (1) lived there for the summer (another traveling family of sorts)!!!  They let us park our RV in their driveway and we were “neighbors” for a week.  The kind of neighbors that mess up your house all day, while your husband works in the RV and ask if they can use your shower. 

Standing in Tobin’s front yard

Tobin is one of Loralai’s best friends and they can play together for hours.  Juliet loved trying to play with Quay, but in fact scaring him and making him cry.  We spent a lot of the our time just letting the kids be together at the house.  I had some real estate deals to work on anyways and was able to catch up a little on the blog too.  Chelsea had some work and canning to do, so it worked out that the kids kept each other busy.

CAN!

Highlights of our time here included…

Florissant National Monument
This is a cool place about 30 mins from Woodland Park that is a monument mainly due to petrified redwood tree stumps that were found there.  They also focus on all fossils in general.  We did a little hike and looked at the stumps and fossils and got Loralai’s final Jr Ranger Badge of the trip!  And Tobin got his First!



At this point in the trip, Juliet got very into “Ring Around the Rosies” and everyone around her had to do it alot.  She calls it “Pocket” (Pocket full of Posies).  So if you even mention the word Pocket, she will MAKE you do the song and circle.
Tobin and Loralai running the trails.


We made a day of our outing and took the kids to a nearby playground to run and eat lunch after we left. 

This was posted on the fence at the playground.  Hahahaha…

 



Date Night
Chelsea has some great ideas!  One of which was to take turns watching each others kids, so we could each go on a date night.  Yes, and thank you!  Joe and I went to a sushi restaurant and it was GREAT!!!  Yay for dates!  Something that was a rarity on our adventure.

Farmers Market
Woodland Park has by far, the best Farmer’s Market I have ever been too!  And it takes place EVERY Friday!  I took our crappy stroller and the girls and we racked up!!!  Everything from slushies to grain fed rack of lamb!  I bought way more produce than we could eat and then left half of it with Chelsea when we left.  But it was fun!!!

Alpaca’s

Have to stop to climb this big rock, of course!

Climbing Pike’s Peak
Check that one off the bucket list!  I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN!!!!  It was awesome, and terrible, and great, and hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be and TOTALLY worth it!  It’s kind of a big deal that I did this, so prepare to be bombarded with photos!  They also help tell the story.  My dear friend, Chelsea, is and outdoor expert!  She and her husband own and operate Outdoor Wilderness Adventures (OWA), which is why they were living in Woodland Park for the summer.  She’s done all kinds of amazing things, but since having her 2 boys, hasn’t done anything super outdoorsie.  So she told me we were going to climb Pikes Peak while I was there.  “Um, OK.”, was my response.  Well, she meant it.  We picked our day, Joe took off to watch the girls, and we left for the trail head by 5am.  EARLY!  Here is our story…with LOTS of pics!

After almost leaving our (old lady) hiking poles in the car, we started our hike UP the mountain.  We were so full of energy and excitement here.  Plus we had just peed on some rocks, so we were feeling pretty good!

This is what I looked at for most of our hike….The back of Chelsea, that’s when I could even see her.

Two pretty girls checking us out.  There were actually a TON of women doing this hike to our surprise!  They way out numbered the amount of men we saw!



The views were breath-taking and probably the BEST I’d see on the entire trip!



A few snickers bars and coconut water and we’re still going strong!



At this point we had done hours of what I consider to be “serious uphill hiking” and Chelsea turns to me and says, “Look, we’re almost there!”  She was referring to the top of the mountain way off in the distance that I’m pointing to.  Somehow I was NOT comforted by how “close” we were!

Happy Chelsea! 
Honestly to her credit, she was trying not to be TOO happy, as to not piss my tired ass off too much at this point.
Our hike did start out very wooded, but the last 3/4 of it was above the tree-line and very exposed.  The trail also followed close to the road, which went to the top, for most of the hike.  It might have crossed my mind to just catch a ride up more than a few times.



The last leg of our hike was over this!  There was NO trail.  Chelsea called it “rock hopping” or something like that.  I did admit that is was kind of fun picking my path as I hopped UP the rocks, AFTER it was over.



We MADE it!!! 
5 hours and some minuets and we had climbed from 10,000 feet to over 14,000 feet!



We are Mountain Climbers!!!!



James had predicted it would take us 7 hours to climb to the top.  He had greatly underestimated his wife’s pushy, no stopping to rest ass!  So we sat at the gift shop/donut shop and ate terrible donuts and the worst hamburger I’ve ever had in my life (And I was a teacher who ate school food!), and we LOVED it!

Here’s where I would play “We are the Champions of the World” if I knew how to do it!

Climbing Pikes was the best possible way for us to end our trip!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Chelsea for recommending we do it, and putting up with slow, grumpy, quiet cause I was trying to breath ME!  I love you and love that we shared this adventure together and love that our kids got to see us do it and our husbands supported us and watched the kids while we did it!

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Estes Park Colorado



Taken at Bear Lake in RMNP
Our drive to Estes Park was eventful to say the least.  Joe noticed a bubble in one of our trailer tires Sunday morning on our way to Estes Park.  We needed some supplies too, so we stopped off at Walmart to get those and a new tire. I got what we needed, minus the tire in under 2 hours, and unloaded into the RV.  I even had to go back into the store for an item I forgot to purchase the first time.  I tell you this, because after all that, we were still waiting for Walmart to mount our tire.  Joe went to check on the status and was told, “It will take awhile.”  It was then that I got the bright idea for Joe to put the spare on the trailer, so when we got the tire from Walmart all we’d have to do would be to throw it in the back of the truck. 
Well after another hour of waiting and being told, “It’s still going to be awhile.” we just collect our rim and cross our fingers that we make it to Estes Park on the spare.  We made it 70 miles…..and it blew.  Strange, since it appeared to be in great condition.  So Joe changes his second tire that day when he put “the bubble tire” back on. 
Back on the road again….but this time with no spare.  Joe wants to stop over night in Fort Collins so we can get a new tire in the morning before driving into Estes Park.  I start calling around to find a place for us to stay and learn that they are all outragiously priced ($80 nightly RV parks, and $180 nightly hotels).  No thank you!  So I convence Joe to just drive up the canyon, through remote National Forest, at night for an hour to get us to Estes Park!  We were both sweating bullets and looking for places we could pull off the road the whole time.  But, WE MADE IT!!!

Manor RV Park was a nice place and we had a spot on the river for most of our stay there ($52 a night for river).
It’s late when we arrive, so we settle in and go to sleep. 
Estes Park is where I was born and I have returned there often in my life time.  My parents lived there for 8 years in the late 70’s and early 80’s and consequently, my sister and I were born there.  I have very few memories of  my early time there, as we moved to Texas when I was just 5 years old.  And yet, the town calls me to come visit.  It’s a beautiful town, set in the Rocky Mountains, with The Rocky Mountain National Park surrounding it on 3 sides.  And because of my parents history there, we actually knew some people!
Sadly, this is the best photo we got of Ron and his wife and was taken by my 4 year old who was running around the restaurant with my phone instead of eating her dinner.
In addition to just being in Estes Park, our good friends, Hilary and Phil, met up with us for our last two nights there and stayed with us in the RV.  It was so nice to have some friends come and visit us!  We love you guys!!!!

Estes was a lazy place for us.  I knew it well and had already done much of the touristy stuff there in past visits and we were just getting off of going full force in Yellowstone, so here we took it easy. 

Although, easy for us, doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything!  Here is what we did…

I took the girls to the park one afternoon while Joe worked.  We had fun and the girls made some 20 min friends while we were there.

A couple of nights, we went out with some old friends of my partents, Ron and Hydie.  They were great, and one of those nights, invited us over to their house, where the girls were able to run around in their gorgeously landscaped yard and play with their dogs!   


I’d say they liked being at the house!

One day, when I especially needed to get away, Hilary and I went shopping down Estes Park’s main drag.  Tons of cute stores!!!  And what was the last place I took my pregnate friend…..A Bar, of course!  But not just any bar, The Wheel Bar.  The oldest and bestest bar in Estes Park!  And a place my parents frequented when they lived there.  Funny story, I’m up at the bar ordering a drink and this guys next to me says something.  I smille, and he says, “You know you are in the old-timer bar of Estes.”  I say, “As a matter of fact, I do.  My parents lived here in the 70’s and 80’s.”  He askes what their names were and then jumps back from there bar when I tell him.  Then he tells me he’s, Kent Summers.  I’ve heard that name so many times when I parents tell old stories of their friends and times in CO.  I couldn’t beleive it!!!  Small world, and a very cool half hour!

Kent and his wife at The Wheel Bar

While I shopped and bar hopped, Joe and Phil took the kids to Fun City to ride Go Carts and have FUN!

Even Bean got to ride the go-carts!

Allenspark is a little town about 30 mins up the mountian from Estes Park, and was the actual town we lived in when I was born.  Besides just coming to the town to for memory sake, I crave the omletes from a little cafe in Allenspark.  My only regrete, is that I did not eat here EVERY morning!!!

Meadow Mountain Cafe

Rocky Mountain PLEASE!!!



In Allenspark, you can also find Crystal Springs, a free flowing spring where you can collect water.  My parents didn’t have running water for much of there time here, so this was a well visited spot.

 We spent two days visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.  Really, we could have spent the whole week here, but we were a little National Parked OUT at this point.  We didn’t even make it to a ranger program!  (I know….shameful.)  But it was beautiful and we enjoyed our time there.


Ridding the Estes Park FREE shuttle into the Rocky Mountain NP.  LOVE the shuttle!!!

 

We saw these boys driving down Old Trail Ridge Rd another day.



Me and my girl

Can you guess what we’re doing here?  Bean had to get in on the Ranger action too.
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2 Weeks in Yellowstone National Park

Ah Yellowstone….

Make that 2012!

Joe and I had been to Yellowstone 2 years prior to this trip when we rented an RV with Joe’s parents and drove up.  That trip was also our first experience with RVing.  On that trip we stayed on the south end of Yellowstone and spent most of our time in The Tetons NP, which is a separate park just South of Yellowstone NP and south Yellowstone.

Most people probably don’t realize how BIG Yellowstone actually is.  It takes about 8 hours of driving the 45mph speed limit to get through the entire park by road, and that’s if there aren’t bison caused traffic jams (they like to walk on the roads).  That doesn’t even touch on the 90% of the park that is back country and accessible only by horse or foot.  So it really does take a few visits to see all the different parts of the park.

We reserved our camping spot on the east side of the park this time in the ONLY campground that has full RV hook ups, in Fishing Bridge ($50 a night).  We reserved our spot 2 months before arriving and it’s a good thing we did.  EVERY campsite had a FULL sign while we were there (July 5-18th). 

Here’s our new friend, Maggie, who stayed at our same park for a few days!

They did a lot of jump roping!

Our time in Yellowstone can pretty much be summed up under the following categories.
Buffalo
Hiking
Geysers
Chuck Wagon Ride
Overnight Camping Trip

BUFFALO

Buffalo are EVERYWHERE in Yellowstone.  The park estimates their populations to be around 4000 currently.  To add to this, we were staying near Hayden Valley, where they all meet for mating season, which was taking place just a couple of weeks after our arrival.  Joe got up super early one morning to go fly fishing and ran into a monster buffalo jam on the road!

After being there just a few days, it hard not to get annoyed when people would stop their cars in the middle of the road and hold up everyone behind them for several minutes, to get a photo of a buffalo laying just off the road.  But that’s Yellowstone!  It’s all about the wildlife!  We also saw some bears from the car and lots of elk, and what I’m pretty sure was a moose.

HIKING

It was our (maybe a little more MY) goal to hike as much as possible in Yellowstone.  Aiding in this was that Joe’s parents were also visiting Yellowstone with their RV during our time there.  So for some of the more rigorous hikes, we had childcare.  Getting into the backcountry on hikes, is a totally different experience from driving around or touring geysers and visitor centers.  And  having visited so many parks, but only being able to do minimal hiking, we were determined to see some “off the path” stuff!  Here are the hikes we did while there…



We were SO HAPPY to see Oma and Opa!

Elephant Back 

This up hill hike had a great view of Yellowstone Lake at the top!  We only took Bean up with us as L was with Oma getting her Teton NP badge.

Slough Creek

This was our big overnight camp adventure!  We looked through guide books all week to find the perfect hike and decided on this one on the NE corner of the park mostly because it was relatively flat, in an area we had not spent much time in before and where we might see wolves, and it promised World Class Fly Fishing.  The hike was not as flat as I was expecting, and we saw no wolves, or anything for that matter besides a deer, but the fishing was everything Joe was wanting and more!

We woke up early that morning and Oma came over to watch the girls (who were still sleeping) and we drove the hour to the Slough Creek trail head. 



Gorgeous hike to our over night spot.  I did get a horrible headache that I couldn’t shake after this 6 mile hike.

We were ecstatic to see our site!  Totally private and lovely!  And a bear box to boot (this was exciting cause it meant Joe wouldn’t have to hoist our packs up on the bear pole with rope and then get them down again every time I wanted some jerky)!  We set up camp, sat by the water, and ate a snack.  I tried to lay down to get rid of the headache, but couldn’t fall asleep and was burning up in the tent.  So we went fishing.

Headache be damned, I caught the BIG one!

Joe was in fly fishing heaven!  We had the river to ourselves for the evening and both caught 2 trout.



S2 was our campsite and totally the best one!  We set up the tent in a fork where the stream split and listened to the waterfall all night. 

Sleeping in grizzly country (even when you have bear spray) and on the ground without a pillow, takes some getting used to!  So it took awhile (several hours) for us to fall asleep.  So long in fact, that we had to take a night time potty break.  This would have been comical to watch, being that we are both scared we’re gonna step on a bear, and I’m blind without  my contacts, and we have to walk across a log that crosses over the stream in the dark, etc, etc.  But we did what we needed to do and eventually did fall asleep, kind of.  AS fun as this portion of the trip was, it did give me a new appreciation for civilization…..and mattresses!



Riddle Lake
Flat 5 mile hike we did with both kids and Oma.  We saw swans and bald eagles on the lake, but no bears!  It was a good long hike to do with kids.
This was the very first day the trail was opened, as it is closed until July 15th each year since it’s a bear management area.  I took this to mean, bears use this area a lot in early summer.
Pelican Creek



This hike was on the eastside, very near where we were staying.  Short half mile hike that bumps up to Yellowstone Lake.



Brink of Lower Falls
This was one of my favorite things to see.  If you’ve never stood at the brink of a massive waterfall, I recommend it make your bucket list.  AWESOME!

Tower Falls
Short, roadside hike.
Natural Bridge
Fairly easy hike to this natural bridge.  We packed only Bean in on this one.



Pretty, but one of the most populated hikes we went on.
Artist Point
Continental Divide
At some point, I jumped out of the car and snapped this pic!

 GEYSERS

One of our favorite things to do when the kids fell asleep in the car or the weather wasn’t great, was to drive to see geysers and  mud pots.  Yellowstone is riddled with them!  The Mud Pots in East Yellowstone were our favorite and closest to us!  The loop was the most doable and has some great pots! 

This one is called “Dragons Mouth” and was by far our favorite!  It even sounded like a dragon was inside!
The male buffalo liked to hang around the geysers and mud pots too.  The fumes act as a bug repellent for them.

CHUCK WAGON RIDE

Prior to arriving in Yellowstone, we had heard about how great the Chuck Wagon Rides were for families, so we signed up ($60 per adult and $40 for kids 4-12).  It seemed a little pricey, but it was the vacation portion of our trip.  We drove to NE Yellowstone to Tower where the stables were and and listened to some cowboy poetry and stories while we waited for the horses to get hooked up to the wagons.  Then we were off on the wagons for a mile ride to a remote area they had set up for our steak dinner (and corn, slaw, potato salad, beans, corn bread, watermelon, and cobbler).  YUM!!!  There was also a cowboy entertainer that sang and told stories while we ate, but we were sitting too far away to hear most of that.  Which brings me to my only let down of the occasion, which was I just had it in my head that the group would be smaller and the whole thing a little more intimate.  Liked we’d all gather around a big fire and hear tales of the Old West.  In actuality, there were probably over 200 people there with us.  But the steaks were good, the staff was friendly, and best of all Loralai and Bean made friends! 
Lots of playing!!!
Where’s the beef?!?!

Loralai got to sit up front with her friends on the way back!  From this seat she got a good look at just how much mess a horse can make.  She’s not so sure she wants a horse anymore. 



Thanks Boys!


OVERNIGHT CAMPING TRIP

See Slough Creek Hike Above…

We also did some other things while there, like take the Lake Yellowstone Tour.  This was narrated by a ranger and we learned some neat history about the park.  For example, there are several bodies berried in Yellowstone.  Like on any hour long tour where you have to stay seated, the kids got a little antsy, but we made it through with minimal lolli-pops.

Oma and Opa on the boat

One day we also took the kids swimming, as it would get quite warm mid day.  Here’s us at Mary’s Bay.

That water was TOO COLD for Bean to want to get in!

Of course we also made time to get Loralai her Yellowstone Jr Ranger badge!  And Oma and Opa took her one day to get her Teton NP badge as well.

She requested that “The Girl Ranger” swear her in.

Yellowstone is an amazing place!  You can see more wildlife here, then any other park we have been to and the hiking possibilities are endless.  The visitor centers and museums are great too.  And as frustrating as it can be, it’s actually nice to be somewhere where you don’t have phone reception and you can’t check your emails and facebook obsessively.  I think we all need to disconnect sometimes.  That was part of the reason we did the whole trip in the first place.  Just as it was, it was a good 2 weeks of togetherness and we will cherish it.

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My Arrival Home To Do List

With our return to Texas coming so near, we can’t help but think of all the things we want/have to do once home.  There are so many things actually, that we decided to make a list, as to not forget a single important one!

Hey Bean, Which way is home?

1. Catch up on ALL missed episodes of my favorite shows, which include, “True Blood”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Modern Family”, “Once Upon a Time”, etc, etc. (TV/Cable is very sporatic on the road and downloading is not an option with the always terrible free wi-fi available at RV parks.)

2. Move back into my house, as everything is either in the garage or in my mom’s house.  (I hope you see my priorities here, #1, #2.)
3. School shop for Loralai.  SO EXCITED!!!  (She says she will wear skirts now, in addition to her dresses, so a shopping we will go!)

4. Get Loralai on an earlier sleep schedule.  This may kill us both, but we have no choice.  Our days of sleeping until 9:30am are very numbered.

5. Host and attend as many friend and family get togethers as possible!  (WE MISSED YOU GUYS!!!)

6. Host a dinner party….with a theme and creative table setting.  (Joe’s totally on board for this….no, really!)

7. Do some interior updating at the house.

8. Jump back into work!  SELL SELL SELL

9. Hold some new babies that were born while I was gone.

10.  Get some chickens (and maybe rabbits and goats) and plant a garden.  (One negative of RV traveling, is that you are stuck eating grocery store food more often then not.  Looking forward to home grown foods.)

11. Plan Lorlai’s 5th Birthday Party.  Eeeek….5 Already!!!

12. Go to Chuy’s and Maudie’s, and Thunder Cloud Subs and EAT!

13. Get our YMCA membership.  (Working out is another challenge of RV life.  Although, I was inspired by hoola-hoop lady.)

14. Drink a beer at our new Whole Foods.  (Thanks for the heads up Julia!)

15. Compost and recycle.  (Seriously missed doing both as composting is impossible on the road and recycling is so sporatic from place to place!!!)

16. Get the truck washed.  (It is surprisingly difficult to find one of these on the road and the truck has not been washed since we left because of this!)

17.  Get hair cuts.  (We all know Joe needs one, but so do the rest of us, especially Loralai after the cut she gave herself.)

18. Mani and Pedi, STAT.  (I’m so relieved to know an affordable place to go, close to the house, where I probably won’t get a foot fungus…YAY!)

19. Sit on our porch.  (We love our porch!)

20. Have Joe cook something in our new oven that we have not yet used.  (We had to get a new one while on the road, when we got renters.)

We are all very excited about our return!  One of the greatest things about a long trip, is that it makes you appreciate ALL the little and big comforts of HOME!
See y’all soon!
Wake me when we get there.
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