Friday, March 19, 2021

Colorado Spring Break!

We are currently driving home from our Spring Break trip to Colorado (author's note: we were driving when I typed this on Thursday, but I couldn't add the pictures until we got home, so now it's Friday and we're unpacked and settled back in with our pets and all our laundry and I'm going through all our pics to finish the post). We've done a big trip in March every year since Cora was born and Landon was in Kindergarten (Austin! Arches! Canyonlands! Monahans Sand Hills! New Mexico! Arkansas/Kentucky/Tennessee/Atlanta! Los Angeles/San Diego! Curacao!) and I love re-reading our adventures, thus me logging in from the car to try to capture some of this week in words.
But first! James and I got our Covid vaccines two weeks ago! We had to drive 90 minutes to a nearby county with extras and a waste avoidance protocol and within minutes of arriving, Pfizer shot 1 was in our bodies getting busy making us and the people around us safer!
The Jack County vaccination system was very quick and efficient (in and out in 10 minutes), but I still found time to be a bit emotional about receiving it. I'm just so grateful to the science and scientists that made the vaccine possible and the health care professionals and others who cared for so many during this past year. I was reminded by Facebook memories a few weeks ago that my last big party was our Valentine's Wine Party one year ago and man did that hit harder than expected. I miss people, I miss living in the fabric of the community we've found here. I miss in-person teaching, I miss driving in to work, I miss living my active, interactive life.

this is my coworker now; he does not laugh at my jokes

Not that there haven't been a lot of really beautiful moments in the last year or aspects of this family bonding experiment that I'm so thankful for and we have certainly been less affected than so very many- our kids are back in a modified version of school and James is back to teaching, albeit in our backyard- but we've been able to reclaim some normalcy, which is maybe why I was surprised that the one year mark had such impact. Maybe because I'm the one still working in our bedroom missing the most of my old life?
Anyway, one thing that was normal was piling in the car and driving somewhere for Spring Break. We were supposed to leave on Saturday, but a HUGE snow storm was expected to hit Colorado that day so on Thursday night- while I was still working to prepare for a witness interview the next day- we started frantically packing to leave a day early on Friday morning to beat the snow. And thanks to some awesome colleagues, I was able to send my exhibits and outline for them to execute while I joined the giant video call on my phone and followed along with the exhibits and questions on my laptop connected via hotspot. I lost connection in a few small Texas towns, but overall was able to work a full day while occasionally throwing snacks at the kids in the back.
We got to my sister's house in Boulder just in time to help her throw together some dinner.
Val is 2.5 weeks out from having my newest baby niece and we nearly had to get out a timer to police the waiting list to hold baby Sage, but obviously I got to hold her first.
Just look at that tiny perfect baby. Landon was obsessed and growled at anyone who tried to take her away.
Claire was also VERY into the baby holding and even Cora took a short break from her shenanigans from biggest cousin Skyla (age 4) to hold cousin #3.
Saturday was a full snow day full of cousin play time and baby snuggles. Claire took such loving care of newly-turned-2-year-old Rio and even at 13 Landon continues to LOVE just playing with the girls and he was a monster, dinosaur, dragon, and who even knows what else because he and Claire played and refereed the little ones in the basement while I watched Top Chef with my sister and baby Sage upstairs. They're the best.
All the kids slept in Sky's room for a giant slumber party and all the adults were in bed by 8:45 p.m. and it was just a really great day.
On Sunday, the snow was still coming down but we were supposed to head up into the mountains to pick up ski equipment for our lift ticket reservations on Monday and Tuesday. The roads didn't look great, but also didn't look terrible and google maps and Waze seemed optimistic about our chances, so we headed out in our 4WD vehicle loaded with snacks and water and ski stuff for what should be a 2 hour drive.
Except google lied and it took 5 hours and conditions were terrible and I had to live tweet parts of our journey to help allay my anxiety and also give my sister a location to come find us in case we ended up in a snowbank. The snow was very thick, the visibility was very poor, and James had to get out of the car twice to re-find the road, which was great while driving on switchbacks with cliffs down the side. Berthoud Pass, which cuts through the mountains to Winter Park where my parents live was closed, so we had to drive out, up, around, and back down the mountains to reach the same place, but we were very grateful for James's calm, steady driving and our safe arrival to my parents' beautiful home full of warmth and nachos.
Early Monday morning we were up and getting ready to hit the slopes when we realized Claire left her snow pants in Boulder, so we loaded up with one kid in leggings to find two stores sold out of all youth pants when a second-hand ski shop later saved the day with some new-to-us pants at a bargain price. We parked at the village, put our lunches in a locker, met up with Papa and a Gigi who did NOT have a broken arm this time around, and hit the slopes for the first time ever without dropping someone off at daycare and/or ski school.
It was just our crew, our Papa and Gigi, and a WHOLE lot of fresh powder.
And the kids did so great! We started on a green to get their ski legs under them and then skied blues the rest of the day. It was so fun to watch each kid ski according to their personality.
Landon, 13.5, 7th time skiing: Capable and fast, no falls, follows his dad blindly into any tree path James attempts and loves a little jump at the end.
Claire, 10,5, 6th time skiing: Strong but careful, occasional falls with a cheerful attitude while working to stand back up. Focuses on form and beautiful turns.
Cora, 7, 2nd time skiing (after many years of refusing to touch snow until last year when she was too big for daycare and had to finally try to ski): Completely insane. Very fast with spectacular crashes and occasional joyful screams.
She yelled a cheerful “thanks dad!” when we finally let her attempt tree paths again after an earlier one took both her skis, gloves, and nearly a leg. Woke up on morning 2 requesting a black diamond as her first run.
We skied until the lifts closed and I could barely get my skis to turn in the deep snow because my legs were so tired.
We even did Parsenn's Bowl, taking the lift up above the tree line to high winds and heavy snow and the kids felt like such badasses skiing down from the top of the world.
On Tuesday, we all had pants, so we were at the mountain before it opened and got free lift-side parking and clear gorgeous early morning runs.
We went up to Parsenn's Bowl for the second time, but after another fulld ay of snow there was SO much powder that Cora's little skis struggled to turn and she had a big fall where she lost both of them and flatly refused to get back on. James ended up carrying her in front of him while he snowboarded to the trees and I was very thankful he was so strong and sure on his board because she and I would still be up there. Once among the trees, our little ski sprite bounced back, and raced headlong back own the mountain, continuing to dart through tree paths and laugh maniacally while I yelled, "Cora! No! Stay on the trail!"
We skied to our cars (literally) and ate lunch inside before heading back out.
(Covid Note: Skiing is fairly unaffected and seemingly safe. Masks are absolutely mandatory in lift lines, entering/exiting the lift, and anywhere in the village and uncovered noses are called out mercilessly. You don't have to share lifts with any non-family members and there is absolutely no indoor dining in the whole resort. We always pack our food and eat outside or in our car, so it wasn't a big deal for us. I'm sure the apres ski scene is much changed, but we that's never been our thing anyway since we always have the kids in tow. All in all, it felt like people followed the rules and were just glad to be on the slopes.)
After lunch the snow was coming down pretty hard and though we'd skied until the lifts all closed on Monday, we only skied a few more runs and cut out 2 hours early on Day 2. As James and I often remind ourselves- it's always best to stop while everyone is still having fun. We returned our skis (love Epic Mountain Sports in Winter Park!) and drove home to put on jammies and eat cookies.
My mom had chili in the cockpot and we rented Raya and the Last Dragon and were all too tired to move. We loved the movie and were in bed early- James with plans to get up early and swim, the kids and I with plans to do the opposite of that.
Wednesday was our play day and we spent it at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA. For the very reasonable price of a day pass, we got to run around on a snow covered playground, ice skate, build a snow fort, and throw a lot of snow at one another. There was also tubing and other activities, but we needed to pack and get down the mountain before dark.
Once packed, we promised the kids a quick round of sledding at the park in front of my parents' house which usually boasts a pretty steep decline into their ice covered lake. But this time they've had SO MUCH snow there was almost no decline at all.
The kids still managed a few rides and we all cracked up as they stopped mere feet after trying to push off.
Everyone pulled off snow pants, threw them in the back of the car, and off we headed for Tia's house, this time getting to use the handy mountain pass that reduces travel time by half. It was an uneventful 2 hour journey and we knew where the road was the WHOLE time. We stopped for takeout pizza and quickly exchanged our big stack of pizza boxes for the baby.
The cousins got to play, we got to fight over baby Sage, and we woke up already 2 hours closer to home. We should pull in the driveway about 9 p.m. tonight with a GREAT trip behind us. I'm so grateful for tiny cousins, kids who travel easily and joyfully, parents and a sister with beautiful homes in beautiful places, Covid vaccinations and precautions and rules people seem to follow in Colorado, and a husband who drives all 30 hours of our road trips with a steady hand and calm presence.
Until next time Colorado! And thanks to Tia, Billy, Papa, Gigi, and the mountains for six beautiful, exhausting, wonderful days!


  1. So glad you got to experience our crazy storm! I'm in Denver :) I'm glad you had a great trip. Agree with you about skiing being a Covid-safe activity-- it has been so nice to be able to ski this winter and feel a sense of normalcy. We've been going up as often as possible and it's been so fun.

    1. Yes I bet! I was so glad for the resort to be able to be open this season and I'm sure the locals are so glad to get their regular winter activity back!!

  2. I love this! The photos of baby Sage and everyone holding her are too precious for words. I love that. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Aren't they?! I only had a few million to choose from 😂💗

  3. I am not a snow fan and most definitely NOT a skier, but that looks like it was so much fun. Apparently being stuck in your house for a year makes all kinds of things seem appealing. :) If you don't mind sharing, I am wondering what kind of vehicle you drive, and if you like it. I'm currently looking for a new one, and with 4 kids we need passenger room and cargo room, but hoping to avoid a minivan. Looking at your photo, it looks like yours might fit the bill?

    1. It's a 4WD Chevy Suburban. We looked around at a lot of cars when we got our new (used!) one this year, but nothing else fits our family + dog + ski gear + suitcases, etc. for our road trips and regular drives to Colorado. Landon goes to college in 5 years (sob) and then I'm sure we'll downsize to a smaller 4WD SUV.

      And yes! Family ski trips are the best. We go every year, thanks to free family lodging, and have so much fun!

  4. It's so lovely to read about your adventures. Right now, visiting family or friends and any non-local travel is not allowed where I live, due to Covid restrictions. Gave me a little lift to see all those cousins spending time together. 🙂

    1. It was so special- the kids really missed seeing their tiny cousins this year and we're so thankful we got to see them this month!

  5. Have you heard of : ? It’s PlayGrand-a friend of mine from your areas referred to or as an amazing playground with climbing challenges enough to appropriately scare her children.

    1. I hadn't! We have one sort of similar at Trinity Park that the kids LOVE but hadn't heard of this one in Grand Prairie. If we're ever in that part of DFW we'll definitely check it out! (And love the "climbing challenges enough to appropriately scare her children" - literally my kids' favorite thing)

  6. May I ask how you handled pre-travel quarantine? I’m kind of shocked your sister would risk the kids infecting her family.

    1. Sure, but I'll admit I find this type of question almost impossible to answer because people who ask generally already have a pretty strong idea of what they think is okay v. not - which is totally fine! - but if you intrinsically feel kind of shocked my sister would let the kids visit, then I don't think anything about my answer will allay that. I'll just note that Colorado does not have a pre-travel quarantine requirement and that we did not plan to stop to see the new baby but changed our plans at her request. Her two older girls are still in daycare, she has already had Covid, James and I have received our first vaccination, and neither he nor I ever go anywhere unmasked. She spoke with her pediatrician and invited us to come and we enthusiastically accepted. Living 13 hours apart we don't see each other often, so I'm glad we got to see them, but would have obviously followed her preferences either way.