Friday, June 29, 2012

Our First Family Summer Vacation!

On June 3rd, we left for our first family vacation!  We had decided on Colorado.  We thought that would be a great first vacation, since both of us had been there before.
So we set out super early, in hopes that the kiddos would sleep for a while before the sun came up.  Wrong,  they woke up enough getting them to the car, that they were up for at least an hour before they fell back asleep.  By 8am poor Weston was crying , wanting me to get him out of his carseat.  The longest trip we have ever taken Weston on , was three hours.
We had a pretty uneventful trip out there.  We made lots of stops, so the kids could get out and play.  We stopped at a school park in North Platte, and stopped at a McDonalds outside of Denver and shared a cherry berry chiller (yummy!)  and made the kids run, do jumping jacks, walk funny around the patio to get sips!
We stayed in Colorado Springs first.  We stayed right off the interstate across from the Air Force Academy.  That first night there we went to the Garden of the Gods.  It was probably the most beautiful place we visited on vacation.

On monday we drove down to Royal Gorge.  What a neat place!  They had a ton of stuff for the kids to do.  I would recommend driving across the bridge, as its a long walk up the hill on the other side to get to the activities.  But we didn't know that, so we walked.  We did the old time pictures in the western town, got to see white buffalo, big horn sheep and elk , the kids loved the carousel, and the kiddie train ride.  We also took the elevator to the bottom of the gorge.  

Later that day we went to Focus on the Family  .  It was a great  place to look around, and they have a great place for the kids to play, and its FREE!  

On tuesday we decided to head up to Pikes Peak.  That was a long drive up the mountain.  The top of the mountain was in a cloud, so we really could not see anything up there.  And it was so cold and windy, the kids couldn't even open their eyes!  We had to run to the gift shop carrying them.  I would recommend taking the cog railway up there if you are not a fan of driving in the mountains, as Cecil and I found out,  we are not!

We had lunch in Manitau Springs.  What a pretty town!  we found a nice playground for the kiddos, and walked up and down the beautiful main street.  Then we decided to go up to the Cave of the Winds.  While waiting for our tour, the kids wanted to pan for gemstones.  

The Cave of the Winds was really a disappointment to me.  So much of the cave system had been dug out for tours.  Not much of it was natural anymore.  It also didn't have too many neat formations.  Defiantly skip this if you have other things you want to see in the area. 
That evening we got tickets to the Flying W Ranch.  They had a lot of stuff to look around and for the kids to do.  There was a Native American dancing demonstration, and a wonderful cowboy dinner and show.  I am so saddened to hear that they were caught in the path of the Waldo canyon wildfires currently burning in Colorado Springs.

On our way home that afternoon, the front brakes on the van started to squeak.  So wednesday morning Cecil took the van to a mechanic.  The front brakes ended up being ok, but the back brakes were falling apart. We were so lucky we even made it down the mountain tuesday!
After getting them fixed, we packed up and drove up to Estes Park.
We stayed at the Lazy R Cabins.  We had a wonderful little cabin, the last one on the hill, back away from the other cabins.  There were big boulders all around.  The kids had so much fun playing on them!

Our first night there we got stuff to cook out.  It was wonderful eating out on our picnic table.  Then I left Cecil with the kids and went and walked around downtown Estes by myself.  The kids were more than happy to stay and play on the rocks instead of window shopping!
The next day we ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park.  We walked around Bear Lake, and Sprague Lake.  Then drove up to the top, and had lunch at the Alpine visitor center.  When we got back down, we went to the Alluvial Fan.  I think we played for an hour at least in the stream there.  The water was so cold, but it was getting pretty warm that afternoon.  The kids had the best time finding pretty rocks.  

That night we went to a great restaurant called Mama Rose's.  It was the best Italian i've had in a long time.  We walked around downtown a while, and stopped for ice cream.

Friday morning it was time to pack up and go home.  We headed back downtown to pick up some t-shirts for the kiddos.  This time we went through the Big Thompson Canyon.  That is such a pretty drive!  
Around 4pm we decided to stop in Ogallala and check out Lake McConaughy.   We found a secluded beach and let the kids play.  It was a nice stop and a break from driving.  The beaches are all white sand beaches.  

We had dinner at the Front street cafe.  It was too bad we had to get going, because they had a shoot out between the cowboys after dinner. 

All in all , we had a great vacation!  And our prayers go out to all those affected by the wild fires that are now in Colorado Springs and Estes Park.  I'm so saddened that alot of the places we were just at three weeks ago, are no longer the same.  

Please consider donating to the American Red Cross disaster relief.