Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Steamboat Springs for the Win!

Jon had the entire week of the 4th off. The office was closed, everybody was on vacation, and it was a much needed no-strings-attached break for him. He never just gets time off-- at least not in the amount of 7 days in a row! We wanted to utilize that time off as much as possible, and decided to explore Steamboat Springs as a family right after the 4th.
We packed up Wednesday morning and headed up north to the Rockies. We stopped in Silverthorne, which is a beautiful halfway point, for lunch and a little rest. From there, it was only about another hour or so to Steamboat.
Having never visited Steamboat we were wide open to adventure and seeing all there was to see. The kids picked to do the alpine slide-- the Howler--first, of course. This is Shorty and I on the ski lift.
There's Jon and Lizzie right behind us. Yes, even Lizzie got to ride the alpine slide!
Lucy and Zach were brave and rode by themselves. The mountainside was just covered in wildflowers and the 360 views were so lovely! That was worth the ticket price right there.
Ready to go! Great view of Steamboat off in the distance. It really reminded me of Sun Valley, ID, where Jon and I honeymooned after we got hitched in 2004.
Whee! Poor Zach is totally doomed on alpine slides. He gets SO paranoid and basically rides the brakes the whole way down. And this was a loooooong track, too. Thankfully nobody but Jon was stuck behind him this time. Maybe one of these days he'll figure it out and be the little daredevil he normally is....
Lizzie was rearin' to go! Leah and I burned down the mountain together-- she is a little speed demon and just laughed and told me to go faster the whole way down.
We found a place to eat dinner at called the Slopeside Grill at the Steamboat Mountain ski resort. They had a little creek running behind the restaurant that the kids could play in while we waited for our table to be ready. Such a lifesaver!
My bacon, brie, and avocado sandwich. Yum! I think I just love eating outside.
The next morning we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and then headed over to the Old Town Hot Springs. It's a historic mineral hot springs that's been turned into eight different recreational pools, and been part of Steamboat Springs' lure for over 100 years. 
It was very, very nice, and the perfect temperature for feeling refreshed and relaxed! It was a great way to spend the morning before it got too hot outside. 
If you know me, then you also probably know I really, really dislike cold water. So this was perfect for me and the kids were so shocked I actually got in and swam with everyone the whole time.
We headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready, and then found lunch at Cruiser's Deli, which was recommended by a friend. They serve unique subs on homemade bread and they were super yummy! Our sandwiches were a hit!
Once again, eating outside for me is top notch. Can't beat that scenery either!
Unfortunately the gondola ride that goes up to the top of Steamboat Mountain was broken and closed for repairs until August. Bummer! That was our plan for the afternoon, so we had to change gears and we figured a good plan B was to do the alpine slide again, right? Right. 
Here we go, Round 2, and yes, Zach was slightly faster than a turtle this time... Slightly.
We wanted to wait until it was a little cooler to hike up to Fish Creek Falls, and a little thunderstorm blew in and did just that-- cooled it down for us, so we set these hiker kids to hiking. It was an easy trail up to the overlook, as well as to the actual bridge and waterfall.
Beautiful! The kids loved hiking to the waterfall and it was nice and cool from all the river mist.
Steamboat Springs, July 2017
We climbed down to the river from underneath the bridge and dipped our feet in for a little bit. It felt so good on that hot summer day!
We voted on what to do next, and the kids picked the Steamboat Springs Botanical Gardens, which BONUS, were free to the public! It was perfect for Lizzie to toddle around, and featured lots of fun gardens for the kids to meander through, although we did get eaten alive by all the mosquitos!
They had a darling fairy garden that Leah fell in love with. We might just copy some of their ideas.
I'll call this Mosquito Bog Lake, because that's exactly what it was. But, a very pretty piece of Steamboat Springs nonetheless.
We got takeout at a Greek gyro place for dinner, and then decided to head back to the hot springs before bed since our passes were good all day long. We got to enjoy those healing mineral waters one last time, as well as admire the sunset.
Even though our hotel had a continental breakfast, we had to eat breakfast out at least once on our vacation, so I picked a place called Winnona's, that had great reviews. We had a delicious mountain breakfast with probably the best cinnamon roll I've ever eaten. I wish I'd gotten a picture. It was HUGE, and had sunflower seeds and this white chocolate orange scented cream cheese frosting that was to die for!
Miss Lizzie wasn't too impressed with her pancakes, so while Jon ate his breakfast she and I headed over to the Yampa river greenbelt just behind the restaurant. Next time when she's a little older we'll have to come back and float the river like everybody else did. It looked fun!
We walked and shopped around the little downtown shops and had fun looking at all the different souvenirs. We found this horse in front of a western outfitters shop that has been open right there for over 90 years. Steamboat has a pro rodeo circuit every Friday and Saturday night that we didn't know about, so we'll definitely have to make it back for that, too.
Lizzie was just about ready for her nap by then so we decided to utilize it by hopping back in the car and heading on home. It's a beautiful drive through the mountains with rivers and lakes everywhere. How lucky we are to be surrounded by all of this beautiful scenery!! We made it back to Parker safe and sound late that afternoon.
Let's just say it isn't always easy traveling with four kids-- one of which is still a baby who doesn't like to be towed around all the time. There are lots of fun memories made, but it also requires a LOT of patience and work, so when Grandma and Grandpa Cardon offered to babysit that night we absolutely said yes. It was a nice way to finish off our "vacation" with a relaxing dinner for just us two. We tried "Manna" at the Castle Rock hospital, and then looked around the outlet malls for awhile. Such a fun way to spend our 4th of July vacation together as a family!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Indepence Day!

The older I get, the more I realize I love the 4th of July. Fireworks and all of that were certainly exciting as a kid, but now as an adult, I love that we get to celebrate these amazing values and ideals--like patriotism, freedom, independence, loyalty, heroism, etc.-- that seem to be getting lost in our society somewhere along the way. We live in such an amazing country with such a significant history, with its fight for freedom and democracy, and our country has a divine destiny we're all a part of. God Bless America!
Now back to fireworks. That's all the kids cared about for days and days leading up to the 4th anyway. We stopped one night at a Black Cat stand and dropped some serious cash on our pyrotechnics show.
Tuesday morning we were up bright and early for our ward's pancake breakfast activity. It was at a nice little park right by our house, and the kids were so excited to see all of their church friends.
I love this little face! And she was loving her pancake!
A family in our ward participates in a Rodeo Drill Team, so they brought their team and their horses and flags and costumes and did a choreographed show to "God Bless the USA" and "Stars and Stripes Forever." It was actually so cool! The kids totally got a kick out of seeing those horses "dance."
Afterwards the riders were so nice and took all of the kids on a horseback ride.  
Zach-O my little cowboy! Looks like he's hanging on for dear life!

Miss Leah was so brave and tried the horsey out too.
Lizzie was not about to be left out, so Lucy offered to take her on her own ride. She is such a brave little baby and usually game for anything!
Next they had a bike parade for the primary kids to participate in.
Go Lucy on your scooter! Woohoo! I'm just glad nobody got trampled.
That afternoon we went swimming at the HOA pool to cool off. Later that evening we had a BBQ with some of our neighbors, and we grilled brats and burgers, had chips, watermelon, salads, red and blue jello, and sugar cookies and cheesecake for dessert. It was a 4th of July feast. 
We are so lucky to live in a neighborhood FULL of kids! There are probably at least 30 kids living just on our street/cul de sac, and in the evenings most are out riding bikes or playing games. We just had some new neighbors move in across the street, and their daughter Evelyn is only 3 months older than Leah and they have become fast BFFs. 
This is Leah's first real "friend"-- where she just talks about Evelyn all the time, and they can play for hours. They are really cute together, and it makes it hard to think about moving and leaving this awesome neighborhood someday!
Last but not least we celebrated our independence by lighting fireworks. There was a police-mandated fireworks ban for all of Douglas County because it has been such a dry spring and summer, but of course approximately nobody obeyed it, and us and the rest of Parker lit the fireworks anyway. We actually had a Parker policeman and a Parker fireman (both our neighbors) there watching our fireworks display, so we weren't too worried about it, ha ha.  What's the 4th without some fireworks, anyway?
Happy July 4th, 2017!
Cute kids bundled up to catch the last of the fireworks. We had some neighbors lighting mortars and roman candles and all kinds of crazy illegal fireworks, so compared to our fountains and sparklers, it was pretty exciting. We had such a fun day celebrating the US of A!

Summer, Please Slow Down!

I can't believe how fast the summer is flying by! In fact, it makes me want to cry. We only get about two months total, because they start school so early in August here in Colorado, and by the time the first month is over and done with, it feels like we're just counting down weeks, and then days until it's back to the grindstone. I ((mostly)) like having these kids at home all day, every day, and I will miss all the fun we've been having when they have to go back to school.
Back when Whitney was here we did a picnic and nature walk up in the front range of the Rockies at the Lair 'O the Bear park. Whitney had never been up in the Colorado mountains, and it was high time she checked them out.
We picnicked next to a gorgeous river the kids were just aching to put their feet into!
And so they did... Nothing like wading out into a crystal clear mountain river at the peak of summer! We walked around a bit and enjoyed Colorado's finest, and didn't even manage to find any bears. Oh well.
We ended up buying our neighbor's old swing set when they moved, and it has been such a fun addition to our backyard! The kids have loved playing on it, putting the sprinkler on the slide, and Lizzie could just sit in that baby swing all day, every day. I lay out in my chair and just enjoy watching them play.
Three little beauties enjoying some sun!
Meanwhile, Zach was having a ball at his Cub Scout Day Camp with a million other little rascals. They played games, ran races, shot bows and arrows, fired BB guns, whittled wood, worked leather, made crafts, and ate lots of slushies and hot dogs. He had SO much fun and was completely exhausted (and FILTHY) by the end of each day. I think I want to go next year! 
One night on our way home from the gym I bribed the kids with Hawaiian slushies. Shorty was sporting her signature "fashionista" look, with backwards shoes and all.
Lizzie enjoyed playing in the clover and yelling at everyone.
Yum! That's some good shaved ice. We figured Moana probably ate shaved ice in Hawaii just like this. But without the sweetened condensed milk on top!
Zach and Lucy got theirs Butter Beer flavored. They loved it! We'll definitely have to go back again before summer is over.
I found matching Minnie Mouse dresses at Costco and of course anything matching ends up in my cart because it's just too fun to make my girls be twinners!
Lucy and Savannah snuck one last sleepover in before we consider her to be totally gone and moved away. We had a pizza party that night, and then pancakes and bacon for breakfast in the morning.
Last but not least, we recently hiked Chief Mountain, which was a sub-Alpine hike basically to the very top of the mountain. It was 5 miles roundtrip and really steep in some parts, but the kids were game and they did AWESOME. Even Leah hiked it start to finish by herself! We took a little water/snack break about halfway up.
We kept telling the kids through all of their whining, "Keep going! It will be worth it! The views at the top will be amazing!" So they listened and kept plugging along, and sure enough, the views were spectacular! I just hate how cameras don't do it justice.
There was one more rock formation we had to scale to officially be at the tippy-top.
Ta-Da! It's pretty surreal to be up so high and have 360 views of Creation. We could see the Continental Divide and most of the 14'ers the Rockies are famous for.
Hanging out on top of the world!
Baby Lizzie who isn't really a baby anymore, but a wild and independent toddler did mostly okay in the backpack. She walked parts of it, but as we got higher up she felt safer in the backpack, and then ended up falling asleep on the way back down, thankfully.
Mountain top selfie!
Zach found a very friendly chipmunk, who just wanted us to feed it. It would have eaten out of Zach's hand if we'd had something to give it other than crumbs and grapes.
Making our way back down to the bottom....
Hellooooo Lucy and Leah! They look so tiny down there at the bottom of the trail.
So proud of these hiker kids for topping Chief Mountain! Now my idea is to wake up super early one morning to make it to the top by sunrise. Any takers?
We headed back down to Evergreen to eat our favorite Colorado-style pizza at Beau Jo's. Yum! It sure tasted good after a long hike in the sun! We are sure loving these long summer days and wish they could last forever.... or at least another 6 months before the Colorado snows come again.