I write this curled up in an over-sized chair in front of a fire. Feet up, jammies on, music playing softly in the background- a glass of red wine to my left and JP to my right, in a gorgeous condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It's our Thanksgiving vacation and it's wonderful.
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We left yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. Leaving the dust and chaos and kitchenlessness of Fort Worth behind, we drove to Colorado Springs, making it in time for an early dinner at maybe the best and most charming Colorado brewpub we've found yet! The Bristol Brewing Company, housed in a schoolhouse from 1916 and offering a fab honey wheat beer, some of the best giant pretzels I've ever had, and a delightful chicken and goat cheese and who knows what else sandwich on homemade focaccia. You should go. They have other things too, like homemade wheat crackers. Cora recommends them.
The car ride went great. And at only 10.5 hours, it was a pretty easy day. We stopped twice, for gas and potty breaks, watched 1 movie, and did a lot of coloring (kids), reading (me), and making Cora giggle (all of us) before arriving in town for dinner at 5. We then went to our hotel- the first hotel room we've ever stayed at with the kids (it's not a vacation unless we have separate bedrooms, I believe this FIRMLY and thus hotel rooms are never an option, but JP REALLY wanted to hike the Manitou Incline again and the full 16 hour drive to Steamboat seemed a little much, so I bent a little, just this once, and ended up in a room with all of my children and the lights off 8:15 p.m.). The big kids were blown away by the luxury of our $75 room- our own bathroom! an ironing board in the closet! a tiny fridge! an "old timey phone!!"
Landon picked it up and couldn't figure out why it made noise when he hadn't pressed any buttons and I realized he's never heard a dial tone before. Crazy. We got a crib set up and as soon as Cora saw it she tried to climb in. I know I've said this, but she is seriously the best baby. She was so good in the car- when the kids were watching their movie (Home Alone 2; after the roaring success that was last year's car trip purchase of Home Alone 1), she would laugh every time they laughed, even though she can't see the screen and had no idea what was going on- like huge rolling belly laughs and it was so fabulous we all kept laughing harder.
It was the most joyful car ride I've ever been a part of. And then she was so good at the restaurant, eating her food and smiling at all the men nearby, and then so good at the hotel- splashing in the bathtub while the big kids went to the indoor pool with JP, and then practically begging to be put in her crib in the corner, falling asleep instantly, and not moving or making a sound until 12 hours later, despite the big kids coming in from the pool and all of us getting ready for bed 2 feet away. She's a freaking miracle.
We woke up early, which was fine since we went to bed at the same time as the 4-year-old, ate breakfast and headed to the Manitou Incline. Except I had to google it to get the address and found out it was closed! For many months. And reopening on December 1st, six days away! JP was crushed. I googled another hike and we headed to Cheyenne Canyon instead. It was really kind of a blessing; I don't know what I would have done with the kids one-quarter way up the stairs in the freezing cold and heavy snowfall while JP ran up 2,000 vertical feet. And I was getting worried about the rest of our drive up to Steamboat Springs in increasingly bad road conditions, so we did a short hike around Cheyenne and pressed on. But not before JP held all the children and jumped over something.
I love that picture, it captures almost all of JP's favorite things in the world, with the exception of me, swimming, and dessert buffets.
We only had another 200 miles to go, which should take about 3 hours on the highways, but the roads were a mess and it was 5 hours of white knuckle 15 mph hairpin turns instead. Fun! Luckily JP is an incredibly good and calm driver, who just makes his way along, never seeming stressed or tired or possessing of a split headache and/or in need of a glass of wine. Those things are all just me. The kids were SO good- quiet and happy as always, and I would just close my eyes and/or climb into the 2nd row to play with Cora and let him know each time we ticked off another 10 miles. I was so thankful for the four wheel drive car we bought this summer; there is absolutely no way my Highlander would have made it, and since I still have nightmares about the number of times we about blew off the road this past February, I have never ever begrudged the new car payment.
But we made it! In a car encrusted with a layer ice packed snow that JP had to hack at in order to open the back door to let the kids out.
Steamboat is a new ski town for us, so that's been really fun for JP and me. The condo belongs to one of my family's closest friends (they're actually Landon's god parents) and my parents, brother, sister and Billy are all joining us here tomorrow. We have 7 bedrooms to share between us, so it is going to be real vacation where everyone gets to sleep in their own beds. After we arrived and kissed the snowy ground we got to walk on, we piled back in the car (ugh) to get groceries and sleds and then walked around to the back of the condo to get a little energy out. And trudging through deep powder will do that.
As always, Cora was skeptical, but good natured.
She was not so sure about the sledding, so after about 15 minutes, we came back inside where I got to cook dinner! From scratch and without using a microwave at ALL! Seriously, so exciting. Usually on vacation we eat out for dinner because that's what makes it a vacation for me too, but not this time. All homemade meals all the time baby!
The big kids stayed out back by the ski lifts with JP for nearly an hour in what looked like a blizzard to dig out a fast sledding race track. I could hear them laughing and screaming from the back porch and it made me smile. Cora and I were dancing to Taylor Swift in the kitchen, occasionally popping our heads outside to make sure everyone was still accounted for, and JP and the big kids were having a blast getting soaking wet and freezing cold in a snow drift.
There are so many vacations I want to take with the kids and so very many places I want to see, but there is really nothing like a Colorado vacation for our family. It just suits us and I can't wait to wake up and explore more tomorrow!
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