Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vacation Day #3-the park

We woke up the third morning with plans to head to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Shawn had vacationed in the Estes Park area while growing up and loves the area. I had been there once while pregnant with Reagan and was not able to do much. Probably because of that, I was not impressed at all with the whole town. I was willing to give it another try though.

For the day.

That's it.

The trip started off with a much needed car wash. Dad's gravel road is not good for keeping a clean car. How cute is the soap?

It was quite a long trip with lots of winding but when the snow capped mountains came into view I forgot that I wanted to throw up my socks. Can you say hairpin turn?While we were on the trip in 2001 we walked around Bear Lake and took this picture. Of course, Reagan is in it....but not visible.We had to go back and capture this.Bear Lake is a really easy hike. Almost flat and great views along the way. We decided we were up to another challenge. I had read about Alberta Falls on the local hike website and Shawn had seen the sign leading to it. We, well, everyone but Kennedy, was up to it. That's a story for a whole 'nother post. It was hard, I won't lie. We took some breaks while old people with canes passed us. We didn't let it bother us. We were conserving our energy. Yes, that's it.

Can I just say that it was worth the hike, the waiting, and the panting? It's not Bridal Falls or anything, but it was spectacular.After drinking in all the beauty, and watching my children get a little closer than I'd like, we headed back to the parking lot. Along the way we saw so many beautiful places. I loved the waterfall, but the smaller, relaxing creek areas are my favorite.That sound just relaxes me. And makes me feel the need to go to the bathroom.

Wait, what?

Moving on.

Next we started the climb up Trail Ridge Road. When we were there in 2001 Shawn's brother had wanted to take the Old Trail Ridge Road. Can we just say, old is not the only word that should be in that title. It should also say, scary, rocky, unpaved, sharp drop off, terrifying...but it didn't. Being on that drive while 4 months pregnant was not a good thing. I wanted to kill Steve and whoever had decided that road should stay open for the adventurous driver.

This time I made Shawn promise we'd take the new one.

Nicely paved+not pregnant=much happier Stephanie. And I think we all know that's a good thing.

And hello view! We would soon be in those. I couldn't wait.As we sat in the gift shop/restaurant and looked at the view, all was right with the world.But always being up for a challenge...we decided to do this. Why not? We were there.Can you believe at over 11,000 feet dandelions will still grow? Good grief.164 stairs later, we had made it.Look at that view!Hoping the walk on the way down would be easier, we set off.It wasn't. But it was nice to be headed back to the car! We were surprised to see the temperature because we were all sweating.The trip down was spectacular and I wasn't the only one taking pictures.More windy roads. I was actually missing Oklahoma at this point.But hello gas savings! Wish we could coast every where we go.My word. How beautiful is this? It made up for all the curves. And that's saying a lot.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Public Service Announcement

We interrupt this regularly scheduled vacation blog to spend:

-two days picking a month of recipes
-two days making two grocery lists
-one day cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator to make room
-one day shopping, loading, unloading, and putting everything away

And probably one day of eating out because I'm too worn out to make anything with this house full of groceries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Colorado Day 2-we conquered the river

How's todays title? A little more exciting? I tried:c)

The girls didn't wake up as early on the second morning. We had sufficiently worn them out. I forgot to mention in yesterdays post that we also went for a 4 mile bike ride along the river. No pictures of that though. I couldn't snap and ride and they kept leaving me behind!

When I'd talked to my Dad about what we'd do while there he'd mentioned floating the river. There was a tube rental store in the town close to his house. After breakfast we loaded up and headed there. The store didn't have many cars around it so I knew we'd be getting a fast start. Turned out that was because they didn't open until 1! Hello. Do people not want to float before lunch? We drove into Fort Collins and tried another place. They only rented rafts. Hello. They let people raft unsupervised?? We finally ended up at a tire place and spent $100 for 5 inner tubes. We looked at it as investment. Lots of years of enjoyment for the pool. Right?

My Dad was afraid to damage his only pair of glasses so he offered to drop us off and be waiting at Picnic Rock to pick us up. What he ended up doing was stopping every half a mile and checking on us. Thank the good Lord. We certainly needed it.

But at first we were all excited and ready to go.But after the first set of rapids, 2 minutes in, Kennedy had flipped, scratched some places, and was crying. We worked through it and were off again. I must say though, I wish I'd done a little research. The river is very calm, and low, but still the rapid areas are rough. We ended up walking a few of them. Also, with two parents and three children, someone was left unattended. I was able to hold two hands through most of it though.

Now, some of you might have tubing experience and be questioning something right now. Yes. A broken coccyx, an inner tube, and a low river are not a good mix. Yes, I (and the other four) hit almost every rock in that river. There's only so long that you can hold your tushie up high enough before your abs scream at you and you relax just for a second.

About 1/4 of a mile in and McKinley had had enough. Luckily Dad was waiting with the sag truck (as Shawn called it) and she happily climbed in and took over the camera. Which meant I got several pictures that looked like this.I had my cell phone with me in case of emergencies and snapped this picture of the two who hung in there for the whole two mile, three hour trip.Can you believe the view? It almost made me forget the rocks. Luckily I had the bruises to remind me.After McKinley left Shawn had the most comfortable ride.Several more rapids, a bajillion more rocks, and we were glad to see the end. It had been an amazing experience though.

After our adventure was over we settled in for lunch on the bank at Picnic Rock. We didn't really know which one of them is the actual picnic rock, but they were all beautiful.Everyone else got right back in the water after lunch.Well, everyone except me. I did this.When we'd been floating we'd seen a ginormous rock that people were jumping off of. Reagan told her Daddy (not me you notice) that she wanted to jump off of it. They headed that way. I caught on, freaked out, and also headed that way. At this point McKinley decided she wanted to do it also. I don't think I was breathing at this point. They started the swim and climb and I stood in the shallow water and freaked out some more.

See why?They watched for a long time. The teenagers slowly went one by one, but each one spent a long time thinking about it. As Reagan started getting in place my head started shaking back and forth.I was scared. I kept yelling to Shawn to not let her do it. I really don't know if I helped sway her decision or not, but she decided not to do it.

This guy didn't do it either.What a relief. But as I was beginning to breath again McKinley started getting in place to go.

But before she went, Shawn decided to do it. I was imagining all sorts of horrible things as he dropped.But he made it. And immediately started the climb back up.

And then, my little fearful 13 year old went for it.As she came out of the water toward me she told me she was fine. She'd prayed all the way down. Guess she thought that would make me feel better. Kennedy was upset that she didn't get her bed. McKinley didn't think that was funny.

And as we watched this floated by,Shawn went for it again. I kept looking for the AFLAC duck.After all that we were all worn out and ready for some down time. We headed back to Dad's and laid around.And enjoyed a visit from this little lady. What a day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colorado Day 1 Part 2

Man, isn't that a title that just makes you want to hurry and click that mouse button? Geez.

I promise the pictures will make it worth the click.

After our short hike and long stream playing, we decided we were ready to really play in the water. We drove for a while until we found what looked like a good place. Everyone piled out and started climbing the rocks to go play in the water. I...I...did not feel right. We had picked a place that had a little to many rocks that made the water fast and rough. The girls couldn't even stand up without help.Shawn was having fun, but I was freaked and asked if we could go somewhere else. He got everyone safely out of the water before he showed me what his shoes did when water logged.Yes, we're easily entertained.

We drove a bit farther and found the perfect spot. Rock skipping, wading, and rock tossing quickly started. I took pictures for a while and then handed the camera to my Dad and joined the fun.Hello perfect backdrop! Wish I could roll it up and take it with me.Hmmm, Christmas card??Because the girls had worn their flip flops for the short hike there were a few times that a flip flop came off and started floating away. They were always grabbed by someone and play continued. But after Shawn had decided to sit on the shore for a while and clean the rocks out of his shoes one of Reagan's slipped off and got away from us. He saw it floating away, slipped on his shoe that he was shaking out, and ran after it. We all cheered as he grabbed it.He didn't join our celebration though. He was looking down and pulling at things in the water. Turns out, while he was rescuing Reagan's $1 flip flop, he lost one of his $100 tennis shoes. He'd stepped out of it while running as it got lodged between two rocks. We joined in the hunt pulling at every black rock just to make sure. After several minutes he took his other shoe off and set it in the water to watch what happened. It turned upside down and floated away. We grabbed it, gave up, and headed to the car. Shawn just couldn't let it be though. He told me to pick him up and set off down the side of the road. I loaded everyone in and started driving. We spotted him about 1/4 later and guess what?He'd found it! Who would have guessed!After such excitement we headed into Fort Collins to take my Dad to his favorite restaurant followed by Ben and Jerry's ice cream around the fountain. What an exciting and fun-filled day our first day had been. And my Dad told me it was the best birthday he'd ever had.

As for me, I was worn slick out, happy, and had another piece to my odd collection.

Oklahoma rocks. What a great day.