Saturday, October 6, 2012

Long Drive, Red Rocks, Tall Stairs

On Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m., we prepared to set off for Golden, Colorado to visit my sister. At 8:21 a.m., after packing logistical difficulties (suitcases, big coats, hiking backpack, and an 85 lb. labrador do not fit easily into the back of a car), multiple turn arounds to do things like turn off the sprinklers and check the lock on the back door, we finally made it to the highway.


And 12.75 hours after that, we made it to Golden. I thought I'd be complaining about the long car ride, but honestly, the kids were so good. I mean, it was still long, and there was no napping, but there also wasn't a single tear, tantrum, or bad moment. The kids are awesome little travelers and a co-worker loaned me two iPod nanos filled with 18 PBS shows that kept them entertained for about a third of the trip. We stopped only for gas, a Starbucks for me, and a few bathroom breaks for everyone (including Tex) and made really good time (I'd packed all our meals and snacks; JP hates fast food and I hate stopping on car trips). We pulled up to Val's little rental house 2 hours after the kids bedtime, ate dinner, and put the kids to bed. Her boyfriend made a bonfire in their chiminea on the back porch and the grown-ups sat outside in 30 degree weather with some blankets, beer, wine, and lots of chatter. Lovely end to a long day.

Yesterday, we woke up to this!


After the initial excitement of getting to wear her new coat AND her owl hat wore off, the Bear was skeptical.


But Tex was frisky and just oh so happy to be here.


Despite going to bed 3.5 hours late, the kids woke up 2 hours early, of course, so Landon was a bit frumpy for most of the morning. He spent much of it near the door, lying on the ground in protest of jackets, snow, and life generally, but a Cliff bar seemed to bring him around.

Also, throwing snow balls at the door.

We rearranged the car to allow room for Tia (what the kids call my sister; because Valerie is hard to say and the Swedish word for "aunt" isn't as cute) and set off on a 100 mile drive to Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods because who doesn't want another 3-4 hours in the car after an all-day drive?

The extra trip was worth it:


The views were beautiful.

And we got to go climb and hike all around the red rocks themselves.

the crew

See that over there? That's a rock.





After we wrapped up at Garden of the Gods, and JP reluctantly obeyed all the signs telling him which rocks he was allowed to climb and which (awesome) ones he was not, my Uncle texted that he'd seen a facebook post of mine and he was in Colo Springs too! He's an Air Force Academy grad and was in town with my aunt for the Air Force v. Navy game. We met up with them at a local brew pub for lunch and it was so fun!

Next up we headed to Manitou Springs because JP had a crazy idea that he wanted to climb the 2,744 steps of the Manitou Incline after eating fish and chips, jalepeno poppers, and a beer.


Tia was not so sure about the climb.


Landon wasn't either.


We made it maybe 2/3 of the way (maybe) and it was freezing and hard and my legs were shaking, but JP and Claire did the whole thing!

5,788 steps later

Apparently Claire slept in the pack the whole way up and then kept JP entertained with fart jokes the whole way down. Charming.

We were all freezing and exhausted and headed home just in time for rush hour traffic and a very late dinner at Tia's favorite pizza place. Given that it was 9 pm and the kids had no naps for the second day on a row, and we were at altitude and probably dehydrated, they were amazing, even if quiet and droopy, at dinner. The ease with which they make travel is how we can do things like throw them in a car on a long weekend to visit a homesick aunt.

Today we're headed out to another hike, this one local in Golden with all three dogs, and then into town to explore, and home for dinner. It's 28 degrees outside and Val and I are making my beef bourguignoun and drinking wine while the kids watch movies and play with the boys.

I love Colorado, my family (small and extended), hiking, and cold weather. Such a great trip, right when needed it.


  1. When I was a kid, we did the Swedish words. Only Moster because 1, my dad wasn't Swedish, and he didn't have a sister. So no Faster. We didn't do Morbror, because my uncles preferred "uncle" - even the one who is still in Sweden!

    I always called my grandparents Mormor and Morfar, but then my uncles kids called them Farmor and Farfar and everything went to hell. Now my cousins and I call our grandmother "Mami" because my kids call my mother Mormor.

  2. Welcome to Colorado! Its cool to see you and your family in pictures of scenery I see every day! Love the Incline...awesome that JP and Claire made it the whole way...thats a feat!

  3. Wonder what I would have done had I ran into you on a trail at garden of gods last month??? haha...that would've been a shock. i'm a long time random blog reader who clearly knows you, but you definitely would've looked at me like 'who are you'?

    Garden of Gods..pretty, but touristy.

    Golden..awesome small mountain to climb behind the brewery.

    Also great private brewery just a few blocks west of main street...worth the walk! Great beer, atmosphere and food.

    Tell you sister to take a weekend and go to national sand dune park about 3 hours west of Colorado City. It's amazing and so entertaining and great exercise. Tennis shoes or hiking boots necessary because sand will get so hot it burns your skin (speaking from experience).


  4. I adore Colorado - your trip sounds so great! When my husband and I first met, I lived in South Carolina and he lived in Denver. I went to visit him - and he wooed me with a trip to Golden (among other amazing places). It's a fabulous place for fun excursions! Glad you were able to take the trip.

  5. Where is Rosie (isn't that your other dog)? Did I miss something?

    1. I wrote about it a couple of times in comments, but Rosie joined a new family about a month before we moved to Fort Worth. We still get periodic updates and she's very happy in her new home!