Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dancing Shoes and Kitchen Pants

1. I am obsessed with this song right now.


The video is odd, but the song is awesome. Like all my good songs lately, I discovered it when my teacher played it in barre class, and I am powerless not to start dancing at the 1:17 mark (or really, from the beginning) and I have boogied around my office and house for the last two days. Tonight, in a fit of particularly exuberant dancing, I made Cora cry. When I asked her what was wrong, Claire said "It's not good when you move like that Mommy."

2. Do we like these shoes?


I need some casual weekend boots to wear this fall/winter with skinny jeans and leggings and I am flummoxed by the varieties before me. Every winter I wonder what I put on my feet the winter before and every winter I somehow muddle through with a bunch of dressy boots, sandals that make my feet cold, and casual ugly shoes from the Chicago snow days. No more! I will find a pair of weekend shoes no matter how many pinterest slide shows I have to look at (casual wear confuses me and I have to make sure I'm doing it right; I'm just not naturally fluent in the language of layering) or how many pairs of booties I have to order and return to DSW, I will figure this out and 2014-2015 will be a time of comfort and cuteness and layers.

3. Has anyone tried fabletics? A woman in my barre class got something from there and said it was great quality and the prices are excellent. They sell things individually or in "outfits" and each 2-3 piece ensemble is about $50, which is pretty great if the quality is good. I'm definitely intrigued. I think I need a reward for going to all the 6:15 a.m. barre classes and I adore this top:


I'm a sucker for criss-crossing in the back and they have lots of other great tops and pants as well. I'm currently obsessed with a pair of herringbone pants at Lululemon that fit like a dream and took all my strength to leave in the dressing room, so I need a reason to divert my exercise treat dollars elsewhere because they are way too expensive and technically everything about that company annoys me. I hate that their Wunder Under Pants are basically my exercise soul mates. Nothing has ever fit me better, but at $92 a pop, I'm always looking to cheat on them. 

4. We picked out the granite for our kitchen today! Very fun. It's actually marble, but it's beautiful. Now we have appliances ordered, cabinets designed, granite to-be-cut, a faucet, sink, and pendant lights already stacked in my living room- this is HAPPENING! I just need to pick out our flooring and backsplash once I have a granite sample in my hand. We stopped at the tile store and while I narrowed my 8,000 options (no exaggeration, overwhelming), I can't pick one until I can hold my counter top sample up to it. But still, so excited! I really can't wait to cook and see the kids at the same time. Kitchen renovations- I'm doing it for the children. Updated pictures of our choices soon!

5. My girls weekend + morning barre class + mother f-ing SUPERMOON that kept my bedroom lit up like daytime all Tuesday night finally added up to an unconscious me for 8 hours last night. Like maybe actually unconscious. I have no memory of falling asleep and I woke up at 8:05 a.m., a full hour after I had planned to leave for work, to an empty house and no understanding of what day it was. JP had left with the kids for school and it took many viewings of my cell phone to convince myself it was Thursday and I very much needed to be OUT of bed. When JP got back I asked him why he didn't wake me up and he said he tried, and each kid hugged me, and after making sure I was breathing they gave up and left. Turns out, I do have a wall when it comes to too little sleep and I hit it last night. Those skylights seem like such a fun architectural detail until the moon grows 10 sizes and beams itself into your bedroom and you fall asleep 2 hours before your exercise class is going to start.

And now it's 7.25 hours before my class is going to start tomorrow, so I should probably head to bed to dream strange things about granite and casual booties.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Howdy

Interwebs! It's been a week again and I'm not sure why this keeps happening. Summer is admittedly rough- I work and do all the things until JP comes home about 7:15, run off to barre or help get everyone in bed, get home at 8:45, try to answer a few emails, straighten up the house, prep for the next day, help JP with his emails and business work, sometimes watch a little TV or read some of my book and then it's 11:45 p.m. and I'm mad we're going to bed so late AGAIN and then the next day it starts over. But the winds, they are a-changing. The big pool is drained and JP's pool manager and board member duties are on hold until April! He has mornings free to do swim school work! Everything is SO MUCH EASIER when fall comes. As a swim school wife, it's my new favorite season.


Flowers and my favorite donut hand-delivered byJP on our anniversary; he really gets me

Also helping to free up my evenings- my yoga studio has created three new 6:15 a.m. barre classes because I kept asking for them and I am going! I don't know that anything sums up the change in me over the last 6 months quite like that sentence. "My yoga studio" - oh yes, I have one - "6:15 a.m. barre class" - YES! - "I kept asking for them" - early enough to be done before work and won't interrupt our family evenings and post-parental-duty glass of wine - "and I am going!" - I haven't missed one yet! Even though I haven't been getting any sleep and my eyes hurt and I get flashbacks to morning swim practice, I am there, in the studio by 6:15 and I LOVE IT. I love it. We always end with some power yoga, stretching, and a moment where you're standing on your mat in mountain pose, watching the sun rise through the studio windows, floating your arms down to prayer, thumbs to heart-center, with "a first big step forward into your day, letting go of all that does not serve you." It probably sounds cheesy reading it here, but I leave feeling lighter. And on a more superficial note, I am actually lighter. The lightest I've ever weighed and suddenly a full pants size smaller. Peace is found at the barre, even if you suddenly don't have any pants.

Speaking of good stuff- two of my best friends from law school visited me in fort worth this weekend! Allison, previously of NYC and currently in Hong Kong, and K, previously of Chicago and currently in Los Angeles. Visiting me, in exotic Fort Worth. And we had SO much fun. Or I did, anyway, but I think I can speak for them too.


Alli flew in on Thursday night and I took her to barre with me on Friday morning, where my super fit yogi friend confirmed that, "this is really hard!", and then we morphed into ladies who lunch. To show I meant business, I even blew out my hair before leaving the house. We ate amongst many other ladies of leisure and then I suggested we stop in a store or two in our outdoor fancy shopping village next to the lunch place. Three hours later we were heading into our fourth store and I was holding three bags and making Alli swear not to let me buy anything else. It's just, everything fit so well! And I would say I wanted some specific thing and it would appear in the next store. On sale. Miracles like that need to be seized.


We picked K up at the airport in the evening and then headed to the home of my favorite margarita in Fort Worth- Yucatan Taco Stand. Don't be fooled, it's an actual restaurant, and its margaritas and nachos cannot be beat. Then we walked to Live Oak Music Lounge and sat on the roof of a building under a giant tree with little white lights and listened to music, drank more tequila, and talked until we were hoarse. It was law school without the school and with more money, wisdom, and moderation in drinking. God I've missed them.


On Saturday I woke up early to Cora screaming in joy from my closet (my friends were staying in her room), so I got up and baked them poppyseed bread. We're basically a bed and breakfast. There was a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, lunch at my favorite lunch place (Lili's Bistro; get the gorgonzola fries), and we got bikinis on, lounge floats blown up, and a pitcher of margaritas ready a whole five minutes before a giant thunderstorm blew in and sent us all inside to drink the margaritas on the couch. The trials we bear.


It continued pouring up to dinner, so we switched plans to an indoor place near Sundance Square, hoping the rain would end when we finished. It did not, so, tequila'd out for the first time in my life, I googled "Fort Worth wine bar" and we found our way to Times Ten in the W. 7th district and it was awesome. Fellow Fort Worthians, you must go. We have a winery! In Fort Worth! And they buy their grapes from Napa, so it's actually really good!


We tasted many, chatted more, and left late. I crawled in bed at 12:45 and Cora woke me up at 6 with her happy screams (we had her pack 'n play in the closet and I think she really likes shoes), so it was another throwback to the law school with Landon. So special, but made better with fancy buffet brunch, mimosas, the Fort Worth Water Gardens, a non-stormy swim in the pool.


I drove them to the airport Sunday afternoon, the kids nearly as sad to see them go as I was. Claire was particularly delighted with all the grown-up girls in the house and anytime I asked JP to get a picture of "the ladies," Claire would race across the pool to get in it. Because, duh, I meant her too.


So now it's just the five of us in our house and it feels so small and margarita-less. I was so blessed in my law school classmates and friends. I wouldn't have survived 3L year without every one of them and beyond the true and deep friendship I share with my close set, there's just a wonderful camaraderie and openness that exists between us. We're all smart, ambitious women in demanding, high-paying jobs (well, not so much me these days) and we can talk about the unique challenges and joys that come along with that. They are a blessing to me, and though I always miss them, thanks to blogs, facebook, email, texting, and their willingness to take transcontinental (and transpacific!) flights, the distance doesn't feel as far as it could, and anytime we get together, it's like no time has passed at all. We're spread out between LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, NYC, and Hong Kong, but Alli is generously giving us a big reunion by arranging to get married in NYC next year and then we'll have to plan to go somewhere awesome in 2016. Though it's going to be hard to be The Fort. It comes with poppyseed bread.


In other things you've missed, Cora is THISCLOSE to walking. She's taken a few steps, but is too distracted by her newfound ability to scream happy screams in different octaves and she tried waffles for the first time on Sunday and I think she's STILL celebrating that.


Landon and Claire are doing great, JP is 50% more available to me on nights and weekends, and we're meeting with the cabinetmaker in the morning to plan out the final details of our kitchen project before walls come tumbling down in two weeks. So, more adventures are coming and I plan to be much better about blogging them. At the very least, there will be some creative menu posts while our kitchen is under construction.

Monday, September 1, 2014

3 days, 9 years

This has been my favorite kind of 3-day weekend. Nothing on the schedule, no reason we have to leave the house, but plenty of opportunity to do it anyway. I went to barre every day, we had people over to swim every day, the kids built forts, JP caught up completely (maybe) on swim school emails, and I read all the reviews of every kitchen faucet on wayfair.com.

And on Saturday night, after having a bunch of first grade boys over to swim, JP and I went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary (on the 13th anniversary of our first date!) at our favorite Fort Worth restaurant- and increasingly possibly our favorite restaurant ever- Grace. We had an 8:00 reservation so Cora would be asleep and the big kids would almost be down for our new babysitter (the younger sister of our previous babysitter who dared to go off to college on a national merit scholarship) and I wore the dress I'd bought online at Express for $18 the week before. It's reversible, in case I want to wear it again without anyone knowing. Cora picked that one night to have a hard time going down, so in the midst of me reassuring our poor new sitter that Cora will totally fall asleep right after we leave and Landon and Claire trying to tell her ALL OF THE THINGS going on in their lives at once and JP looking at his watch and noting its similarity to our reservation time, I tossed my big camera at the sitter and asked for one picture pretty please.


One picture!

And then I got one at the restaurant while we sampled our complimentary champagne. The bosc pear martini I'd already ordered was waiting on the side. A bottle of Bordeaux was involved later on. Grace makes me such a lush.


Our meal was, as always, incredible. It's not just better than anything I could ever make, it's food I wouldn't even think of putting together and making. And the company, of course, was even better. I read some article on the way over about a psychologist who said he could predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple would divorce or not after listening to them converse for a few minutes. The article, though interesting, wasn't really the point, it just made me think about divorce- friends we know who've already gone through one and some of the difficult things JP and I have gone through together- and I tried to find the words to explain to JP that no matter what the future holds, I just can't imagine a version of the universe where he exists in it and he is not my husband. I can imagine so very many things, but my mind breaks at that. It's not even that this life and family we're building would be fighting for, though they are, it's him. He's my person.

But enough of that. The meal was awesome and I look forward to our next reason to celebrate something fancy.

Sunday dawned bright and breezy and the boys headed out for their traditional Sunday run/bike.


I love this tradition and hope they do it forever. I also love JP's new running shorts. Why did men stop wearing short shorts? His legs are squandered in the cargos of today.


They went 6.5 miles in 49:19 minutes- a new record!


They were both very sweaty and pleased with themselves and jumped in the pool with their clothes on to celebrate. Then we all went to Lowe's and Target and Costco together, because we know how to have a good time. We had friends over for wine and swimming that night- we provided the swimming and they provided the wine, and that was great fun. They have 2.5 year old and a 10-day-old and I held the tiny brand new wombat baby and the second I made eye contact with JP he said, "No." It seems unfair I became a baby person with my own last baby.


eats like a badger; not invited to fancy restaurants

Today began with a meandering family walk way off JP and Landon's Sunday pace.


Claire and I went to Target and tried on all the fall clothes, none of which I liked on me at all, and then Kroger where she kept asking where the "changing station" (aka dressing room) was. She really likes when I try on clothes in dressing rooms and she can tell me I look beautiful while she dances and sings in front of the full-length mirror. Love her.


JP had to go to the pool for the final evening of the summer- they're shutting it down so there was a ton of work to do and I was on my own with a teething angry baby and two big kids who were honestly being really good, it was just the last night of a 3-day-weekend and I was feeling the solo parenting status a little more intensely than usual. I had planned to do yoga once everyone was in bed, but by the time Cora finally passed out and the big kids were in bed a half hour late, I skipped yoga for a scalding hot bath and very large glass of wine. And then I ordered our sink, faucet, and pendant lights for the kitchen so JP wouldn't have to look at any more online pictures when he got home and now I'm blogging and wondering how long it takes to drain an Olympic sized pool. But it was a fun, relaxing, long and lovely weekend and I hope yours was the same!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Firsts and Faucets

Landon started First Grade on Monday! He looked super handsome in his uniform shirt and shorts- the cleanest and brightest that shirt and shorts are going to look all year. He had a new backpack, old shoes (we ran out for new ones that night; his feet are growing SO big SO fast), and an excited little smile. Who doesn't love the first day of school? I would still like to have one every year.


Landon didn't think the five of us really needed to be in his classroom, and he definitely didn't see why I needed to hug him goodbye, but he was a good sport about our (new) traditional handshake. How many years does it take for something to be a real tradition? Maybe by second or third grade?


This started when my best friend got married last summer and at her bridal shower her dad had a little slideshow of childhood pictures including a series of her and her big brother shaking hands on the first day of school every year from Kindergarten through college. It was adorable and so touching and funny to see them change (along with their attitude towards each other and school) each year. It occurred to me that my kids don't really seem to know what a handshake is, but they're very good at hugs.


Love.


Landon's new teacher seems just amazing. Very like his Kindergarten teacher (who we adored) in that she went to his school for her elementary years, her mom taught at the school, she student-taught at the school, and she's now on her 17th year there as a teacher herself. She is known as the "child-whisperer" and did seem to have an incredible and immediate hold on her class despite the parents, first day craziness, and not ever raising her voice above her soft-spoken drawl.


His first four days have gone great. Our big changes from first to kinder involve daily homework instead of weekly and a requirement to sign his behavior folder each day. So far neither party is finding this overly onerous, but it's early and the homework is all review so far.

In other bits of excitement I ordered four things online at Express.com the other day and all four fit and are perfect and I'm keeping them! This happens exactly never- I order most of my clothes online and always routine about half, but this time I'm keeping ALL of the things and I'm so excited by my success, and the re-purchase of my favorite pair of shorts in two new colors (and smaller sizes!) for only $10 each, that I don't even mind that I'm not getting the credit I assumed I'd get when I returned an item or two. I also got a dress for our anniversary dinner on Saturday- a cute trapezey thing that makes my shoulders look great for $18, so I'm all kinds of pleased with the internet right now.

Also on the internet- the inspiration for our new kitchen! As I mentioned previously, we're knocking out a wall and redoing our kitchen in the next few weeks. We picked out our appliances yesterday (amazing deal at a local store with the sweetest salesman; he helped me pick out and buy our fridge and washer/dryer when we moved here in early 2012. The company recently came out for free to fix a leak in our freezer no questions asked and they have a scratch and dent warehouse that saved us about $1,000 which justified my buying the double-convection-oven gas range of my dreams), and our contractor is coming by tomorrow morning to finalize our cabinets and floor plan. We're picking out granite and tile next week and our whole kitchen should be ripped out by mid-September. Can't wait!

Here's a few of my inspiration photos:




Flooring is going to be the trickiest part- I'm thrilled to get rid of our 70-year-old linoleum, but I need something that goes with my color scheme, doesn't clash with the honey wood floors already running throughout the house, and isn't square or boring or wood (I only like tile in kitchens). But I can't roam the aisles of the tile warehouse until Tuesday, so I'm picking out our faucet and over-peninsula pendant lights in the meantime.

Thoughts? Granite will be white/grey, cabinets will be white Shaker-style, floors will be darker (likely brown, but we'll see), walls will be same blue as living room, all appliances are stainless, and sink is stainless undermount.


Circle Pendant; Downlight Pendant.


Industrial; Curvy.

I still have some googling to do before finalizing those purchases, but I think I'm leaning towards the downlight pendant and industrial type faucet. Does anyone have one of those? Do you like it? After 2.5 years of discussions and savings, we're really just a few google clicks, building permits, and weeks without a kitchen away from a walk-in pantry and the ability to see the kids while I cook dinner each night. I am most excited about that last part. I hate getting home after work and then immediately kicking them out of the kitchen so I can cook (it's too narrow and dangerous to let them stay; my leg bears the scars from run-ins with appliances). I want to see Cora in her pen and Landon doing homework at the island and Claire flitting about between them. 

So while I meditate on that happy thought, let me know if you have any kitchen reno wisdom to share. Cabinet configurations, favorite drawer set-ups, things you wish you'd done, things you did that maybe weren't quite worth it in the end- anything! We've renovated three bathrooms, but this is the first kitchen and it means so much to me. Plus, it's expensive, so I'm going to need to love it until we move or the year 2034, whichever comes sooner, so let me know if you have any hard earned advice or other thoughts!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Palo Duro Canyon and Summer's Last Hurrah

Today was back to school prep day- I made 3 days worth of dinners, shiny new backpacks and lunchboxes were made ready for their big debuts, and Monday's uniform is the cleanest and brightest it's ever going to be. We are READY for this. Summer is great and all, especially with the pool, but I much prefer the school year's steady routine to the craziness of June - August (it's mostly JP's craziness, but it bleeds over). So yay first day of school, bring it on!

But before we close out on summer and move on to fall (if a 105 degree forecast can be called fall), let's go back in time to Wednesday morning when we piled our children and lots of carefully planned food, two hiking backpacks, some baby gear, a bunch of sunscreen and bug spray, and Landon's gigantic size 5 hiking boots (size 5!!)and drove for 6 (actually 6.5; we missed an exit by about 20 miles) to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. I booked a 2-room rim cabin back in April when I decided I had lied when I justified our February ski vacation by promising we wouldn't go on a vacation this summer and then polled co-workers for a trip ideas that would be inexpensive, no more than a half-day drive, not involving the beach of water (JP is waterlogged by late August), and with good hiking. Palo Duro it was, and because no one wants to go camping on a Wed-Fri in late August, we were able to book our cabin with less than the usual 10 months notice- huzzah!

And oh, our the cabin. This was our view when we opened the tall gate separating the cabin from the road.


The camera phone can't come close to capturing it, but it pretty much took our breath away. I can't believe I grew up camping all over Texas and never heard of this place. It's the second biggest canyon in the US and spectacularly beautiful.


The cabin was built into the rim of the canyon by the CCC in the 30's. It had a flat roof edged in stones the kids could climb up and they thought it was the most amazing thing in the whole world- screw the geological wonder before them, they get to play on the roof of a house! And their bedrooms had full-sized bunk beds, so this was basically the greatest vacation destination of their lives.


We quickly unloaded the car and headed out for our first hike. Dubbed "Rock Garden" and rated "difficult," it was basically a windy path through the canyon that ended in an explosion of boulders seemingly thrown down from the heavens. As you know, there's nothing the Lag Liv loves more than a pile of rocks to climb on. So climb we did.


Cora was all, you put me in a car seat for 6.5 hours so that you could put me in a hiking backpack for 2 more? Awesome.


We all bought hats for the trip, making this the first time I think I've ever worn a hat in my life, but Claire adored her little baseball cap and she wore her heart-shaped teal sunglasses on every hike.


This was the first trip she had to hike on her own instead of freeloading in the backpack, but she did SO great. She was pretty sure that hand-holding was essential to hiking, and given that she hiked a total of about 10 miles in 3 days without whining, I was happy to oblige.


Cora was happy to take the sacred seat in the hiking backpack. Giddy'up Daddy!


We got back to the cabin in time for cocktail hour and some scaling of the walls.



The kids got to stay up past dark so they could run around with glow stick necklaces and we could make s'mores. Except the s'mores plan had to be abandoned in the face of crazy high winds, so we enjoyed back-up chocolate chip cookies and tucked the kids in bed before heading back out to our patio to watch the stars, which were truly spectacular. I counted 9 shooting stars the first hour.

On Day 2 we woke up to a bald headed baby who was DELIGHTED to find us sleeping in her room and began our preparations to tackle Palo Duro's signature hike to Lighthouse rock. 2.72 miles each way (which was a lie, more like 3.2), the last bit quite vertical, with a 105-degree sun and no tree cover. This is how we vacation people.


We loaded up our two hiking backpacks: JP's with Cora, 2 big water bottles, my camera, and a diaper changing pad and supplies; and mine with a gallon of water strapped securely in the baby holding area, a bunch of snacks, and a first aid kit. I was the supply cart in the wagon train and our plan to put Claire in JP's pack and Cora in mine when Claire got too tired and our water jug was empty worked out perfectly.


Claire was such a trooper. She made it 5 whole miles on her own, which was great, because as it turned out, it nearly killed JP to have a 40-lb. Clairebear on his back for the last 1.5. As she noted frequently throughout our hike, "I'm a really good hiker, but sometimes I need a little help because I'm four."


After reading the 65 warning signs about dehydration and heat stroke, we were very good about hydrating. And it says something about the dehydration risk when all that water guzzling didn't result in a single request for a bathroom.


When we finally got to mile 2.72, the alleged "end" of the trail, we discovered it ended in a view of Lighthouse Rock, not with our feet actually on the formation itself. That wouldn't do, so we pressed onward and upward. Seriously upward.


But we made it!


Totally worth it. Even Cora was like, I guess this is nice, you crazy crazy people.


But then JP and Landon discovered a side trail that would get us up even higher to the very TOP of the formation. So of course, up we went.


JP even boosted Landon the last 5 feet so they could walk across the top of the world. Or at least the top of Palo Duro Lighthouse trail.


And then, kids refueled and re-watered, we headed back down.


The last 1.5 miles were a little rough. Cora had finally HAD it with this non-crawling, non-napping hiking nonsense and yelled in my ear the whole time I carried her on my back. Claire was delighted to be in JP's pack and Landon was still a cheerful trooper who did so much extra running and climbing I think his hike was 9 miles long, but JP and I (and Cora) were pretty goddamn happy to get to the car. Not that I regret it- the pictures don't come close to doing justice to how beautiful it was to stand on top of that rock and look out at the canyon below, I just wish you could park about a mile further along the trail...


(later, post-nap)

But we got home and kids played on roofs and babies napped in their pack 'n play. The kids and I walked to the Visitors' Center, where Claire made many dubious bobcat sightings from the tourist telescope and Landon diligently filled out his Junior Ranger Packet and earned his first badge. And then he filled out one for Claire so she could have one too. He's basically the best. We rounded out the day's adventures by driving in to Canyon, Texas for dinner and a much-needed margarita, only to find out that it's a dry town (nooooooooooo) and 3:30 is too early to eat. We explored the largest Texas history museum in the state (so we were told) and ate at a tasty diner with a lot of senior citizens before driving all the way in to Amarillo to get the kids their promised ice cream. We got back to "our new little house," as Claire called it, and played some more. I did yoga. Claire helped, and Cora once again thought everything was awesome.


Day 3 dawned cool and windy and beautiful. I may not miss the semi-functioning "air chiller" window unit that got the cabin down to a not-quite-comfortable 80 degrees, but I do miss waking up to that view. It never got old. We packed up a little and set out in search of a last great hike. We spied a cave a little ways off the road and pulled over to go explore it.

Cora was all, "LET'S DO THIS!"


The cave was quite a bit further away than it looked, of course, but we made it! In this picture, Claire is telling us, "Um, I'm pretty sure there's a bear in there and I do NOT want to see him." Love her.


JP took his traditional "jumping over something carrying kids" picture, now with three. I think this might be the end of Landon's inclusion in the series because he's getting really heavy.


As it turned out, there were lots of caves to explore and rocks to climb, so it was a pretty perfect end to a pretty perfect trip.


We got back to the cabin for the last time, let the kids play on their roof for the last time, and then took one final picture with all three on top of their world.


New desktop background!

I was doubting this trip in the days before we left- summer is so exhausting and suddenly just staying home sounded lovely, but I am so so glad we went. I love family vacations with our kids, and if possible, JP loves them even more than I do. I actually love all of our days, but there's something extra bright about vacation memories. This was a short one, and all told we spent $450 including lodging, food, and the gas to get there, but it was glorious. We head to Steamboat Springs in November for a hike-filled Thanksgiving, and then I have to figure out where we're going next. 2015 is our 10-year wedding anniversary, so I think we need to do something big. Maybe even involving airplanes and non-state-funded lodging. Maybe beachy, and definitely with an all-inclusive swim up bar and drop-in kids camp. Suggestions welcome, and if you are a hiking/camping enthusiastic (or "camping", I'm not sure it counts when you're in a cabin with electricity, mini-fridge, and surprisingly nice bathroom), definitely add Palo Duro Canyon to your list. Maybe not for August, but sometime- it's beautiful and I think we saw 5 people the whole time we were there. But that's probably because no one likes hiking enough to go to the Texas panhandle in August except us.