Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A short jaunt to Denver for the Weekend.

Last weekend we had about 24 hours to unpack our things from Yosemite, do laundry, and repack it all for a trip to Denver.  We like to travel, but this was by far the tightest we've ever scheduled trips.  Actually, the trip to Denver got tacked on after Jeremy found out he needed to travel there for work.  I figured, if he got to go enjoy the mountains, then we were coming too, at least for the weekend.

So Sunday we spent the day turning around laundry and Monday morning Jeremy was off to Denver while I stayed home with the kids for the week.

Thank goodness for daycare!  Phew.  Single parenting for the week certainty wasn't easy, but we made it through with only a few minor hiccups.

Thursday night came and we were off to Denver.  I previously sent Jeremy with the clothing and diapers, so I "only" had to manage two kids, a stroller, diaper bag, Max's toy bag, and two car seats.  Max was a very good traveler and only tried to run away from me once in the airport.  (Actually, he was walking to the window and someone stopped him in such a way that he thought it was a game, so helpful stranger but not really.)

We arrived in Denver, got the car and made it to the hotel by about 1:30am.  Yea, late night for sure.  Max was hyped up to see Daddy and we were all up until 2:30.  Yikes!  Needless to say, Friday morning was a late start.

Friday - Georgetown Loop Railroad & St. Mary's Glacier

Friday we ventured out to the Georgetown Loop Railroad and took a short ride through the mountains.  Max was pretty excited to be on a train, but also still pretty tired from the night before.  This turned out great because Jeremy and I were able to eat lunch in quiet for a few moments before Jesse woke up for a feeding.  Why is it they can't both sleep at the same time.  Just 30 minutes!

choo choo

After the train ride we headed up to Saint Mary's Glacier for a little hiking.  It had started to rain at this point but we decided to grab the rain coats and umbrellas and do the hike anyway.  As it happened, the rain stopped after about 15 minutes and we had a great hike.  Max walked about 1/3 of the way up going across the rocky trail with careful footing.  It was great for his balance and he kept saying "slippery" when he would get knocked off balance.

The trail tops out at a lake with a view up of the glacier which is so tiny at this point that it seems that it won't be there at all in a few years.  We didn't do the hike up to the base of the glacier, instead opting to stay by the lake for a while and have a snack, throw stones, and take pictures.

at the top of the lake before the glacier

hiking up the path

what a cutie

lake with the glacier in the background

throwing stones

Friday night we ate dinner at Ted's Montana Grill before heading back to our hotel in Bloomfield.  (We stayed at the Hyatt House and found it very nice and accommodating.  The room was very big which was great for fitting a king bed, pack and play, and a toddler inflatable bed).

Saturday - Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday morning we got another late start, but we managed to get up to Rocky Mountain National Park by 11:30am.  Late by my standards but Jeremy and the boys seemed to enjoy the relaxed morning.  We started to head up to the top of the park but quickly realized that we wouldn't be able to do both the drive to the top and the Alberta Falls hike if we had any intention of eating dinner at a reasonable hour.  So, we aborted the drive and headed back down to the Glacier Gorge parking area to do the Alberta Fall hike.  Along the way we stopped at this overlook and took some great pictures of the kids.

The Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking was super packed at 1pm and after driving around it and the Bear Lake Trail parking area several times, I finally managed to grab a spot by following a woman to her car.

This is by far one of my top 10 (maybe even top 5) hikes that we've done.  It's beautiful and just really allowed us to escape into nature for a while and spend time together as a family without any distractions.  Sure it took us a while to do the hike, but that's because Max walked the entire 1.7+ miles to the falls and back all by himself!  Yep, I am so proud of my little guy!  Each time he would stop at a bridge crossing to throw stones we would tell him that we had to keep moving so we could make it to the really big waterfall.  Man, the look on that kids face when we rounded the corner to Alberta Falls.  "WOW.  Big Big Waterfall!" he said with amazement.

If you're in the area, definitely put Alberta Falls on your short list of hikes to do, simply gorgeous and only 200 feet of elevation gain over .8 miles.

photo op!

the "big big waterfall"

tossing rocks with daddy

Following the hike we headed to Tavern 1929 for dinner.  I was impressed with the food and it is very family friendly.  Jeremy felt the beer was good, though I opted for the house pinot and the house cab, both of which were excellent.  Unfortunately, while Jeremy and I were hungry, Jesse had plans of his own.  He was not happy and we spent the entire dinner with one of us rocking him while standing up.  Because of course you can't sit down.  Never sit down.

The evening was capped off with ice cream in Estes Park.

Sunday - Boulder & friends

On Sunday we spent a very relaxing morning in Boulder.  We hit up Pearl street around 10am and surprisingly stayed there until about 2:30.  There's a lot of fun stuff for the kids to do including a boulder area to climb on (complete with a bridge and a fake river), a splash pad, and animal sculptures to also climb on.  There's also a toy store and a microbrewery (West Flanders Brewing Company).  The food at the microbrewery was actually quite good and the restaurant has all kinds of toys and legos for kids to play with while the adults ate their meal.

That afternoon we headed down to visit our friends, Lew and Kathleen, just outside of Golden.  After convincing Lew that ice cream was not an appropriate dinner for anyone, especially a 2 year old, we headed first to dinner and then ice cream.

It was a nice relaxing day and a great opportunity to catch up with friends.  Max liked Lew and Kathleen so much I think next time we will just drop him off and sneak out the back door :)

Make the jump HERE for the rest of the pictures from this awesome weekend getaway.

Visiting Yosemite

What a whirlwind these last few weeks have been, and it's not slowing down until next week!  Someday my boys will look back at these stories and realize how crazy their mom was for planning so much into such a short amount of time.

Two weeks ago we were able to finally visit Yosemite National Park.  Though we've lived in California for over a year, it took us this long just to get reservations somewhere!  And, because I didn't realize you could book a year out, our next years trip will also be in the fall as opposed to the spring, oops.

Yosemite is about 3 1/2 hours from our house.  That's 3 1/2 hours for people without kids.  For us, it took us about 4 1/2 to get there and about 5 to get back.  There were several stops to feed Jesse, grab a bite to eat, and let max burn off energy at a park.

When we first drove into Yosemite, around 1pm, we were immediately entranced by the beauty of the mammoth granite mountains.  When we came upon a 3500 foot sheer granite face, there was no question that we were looking at El Capitan.  Simply stunning.

El Capitan

Because of the severe drought in California, many of the iconic waterfalls were dried up or slowed to a trickle.  There was no point in visiting Yosemite Falls or many of the others.  So we opted to spend our time and take a grand overview of the park.

Our first day we hiked to the Vernal Falls footbridge, about 1.9 miles round trip on the Mist trail.  It was slow going and Max was carried most of the hike.  Not because his little legs couldn't do it, more on that in the next post, but because the sweet simple developing mind of a little child is just as amused with the rock on the trail as he is with the destination and the journey.  Every step, every rock, ever puddle is a journey to him.   I try to sit back and watch and just take in all the little moments.... but at some point you've gotta keep moving!

starting the trail

hiking up the trail

We made it to the footbridge.  Jesse was not amused.

After Vernal Falls we had dinner at the curry village pizza patio and beers from the bar right beside it.  The patio was very lovely, pizza was on the good side, and the beer, Tioga Sequoia Half Dome wheat, was delicious.

After dinner we checked into our hotel, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and crashed out.  (at 3 months old, we didn't think Jesse was quite ready for camping, so we opted for the lodge).  Our room was small but had enough space for a pack and play and even had a queen bed and a double bunk bed.  Somehow Jeremy or I wound up in the bunk bed and Max wound up on the queen with the other one of us.  Still not sure how that happened each night.

The next day we did the Cook's Meadow hike.  We started across the street from bus stop #6 and more or less followed the directions online.  We had spectacular views of the valley and half dome.  We stopped at Degnan's deli for some lunch sandwiches to go and hit up the gift shop for a shirt for Max and Jeremy.

Cook's Meadow

Loves the binoculars

Simply stunning

After returning to the room to finish our sandwiches, we headed down to the Swinging Bridge (doesn't swing at all) and spent a few hours on the beach.  The Merced river that runs through Yosemite has several small sandy beach spots that are perfect for escaping the heat.  We had just purchased a beach canopy and between the mesh sides and the small portable fan, Jesse was in heaven.  The water temperature was about 70 degrees, but it felt so great.  For a while I just sat in the water looking up at the granite mountains thinking to myself how lucky I was to be able to visit such a beautiful place.  We enjoyed our time at the beach so much that we actually went back two days later to have some more water fun.

Best beach ever.

That night we drove up to Glacier Point for sunset.  It is very beautiful up there, but absolutely terrifying if you have kids.  I made Max stay in the stroller the entire time, only getting him out once to see the view.  And that one time he was out, I had the biggest death grip on him.  No no no no no, just sitting here typing I can't even think about it.

Family photo then back in the stroller

Glacier Point

The next day we headed up to Tuolumne Meadows.  Now, if you know anything about the geography of Yosemite, at this point you are probably wondering why we decided to do glacier point and then Tuolumne Meadows back to back.  The answer is simple.  We didn't fully appreciate how far away Tuolumne Meadows is from Yosemite Valley.... we do now!

After being very ansi in the car, I was ready to get out anywhere.  A quick stop by Tuolumne Meadows visitor center provided us with a map and a plan.  We decided to park at Lambert Dome, eat lunch that we brought (sandwiches from Degnan's again), then walk down to Soda Springs and the Tuolumne river.  It's about 3/4 of a mile in each direction, but it's a nice walk through open meadows culminating at a river and a cool geological attraction.

soda springs

photo op!

one of my favorites.  check out flickr for a better rendering.

Saturday was time to leave, but we decided to spend most of the day in the park and head out closer to dinner.  We stopped by the visitor center before heading back to swinging bridge and the Merced river.  Just as before, we throughly enjoyed our swim time.

We had a great time in Yosemite and will definitely be visiting again in the near future.  Make the jump HERE for the rest of the pictures.