Recent Family Adventures

Colorado 2016 Part One – Fort Collins/RMNP

Oh hello there, mid-November.  I honestly can’t believe you’re here already.  I thought I had more October and all the early-fally-goodness and sunshine and 70’s and time to write blog posts about our Colorado adventures.  Because November was scheduled to bring another big adventure for the Huggs All Around and by golly I don’t want to get behind on these posts because I have a bad enough memory as it is.  Can’t clog the old brain-filter with too many trips lined up in the blog queue, ya know?  It’s bound to get messy.  Alas the few very short weeks between our Colorado explorations and our Natchez Trace/Gulf Shores getaway went far far to quickly between laundry/unpacking/cramming lots and lots of school in/booking Airbnbs/packing again that I am just now, upon our return from GS, able to sit down, load the media, and tell you all about our trip to Colorado last month.  Lets hope I get around to unpacking all the bags along with the fun details of our latest beach trip before Christmas! 😉

Hitting the road for CO- doesn't Daddy look excited?!
Hitting the road for CO- doesn’t Daddy look excited?!

Colorado was a first for us as a crew (our first mountains other than a quick drive through the South end of the Smokies between Nashville and Atlanta on our way to DisneyWorld, but that’s another story for another ((flashback?!?)) blog post!).  This also marked the first big trip we’ve taken since finding out Hugg Adventurer #5 is going to need a seat in the SUV starting in April ’17. 🙂 As such, there were a few more questions (we won’t say worries because I legitimately don’t worry about travel…it’s way too much fun!) in my mind as we approached this trip than usual…

 

1- Would we all (me being 14-ish weeks pregnant especially!) be able to handle not only the dramatic altitude changes but the crazy mountain roads (and Daddy’s driving)? Are we in for loads of carsickness and altitude sickness and cotton-mouthy-ness and general unwellness for 10+ days?!

2- Would we see any bears? And what would we do if we saw a bear? What would we do if the bear chased us and tried to have us for dinner?!?! Note: this Mama has a slightly irrational childhood fear of bears.  I don’t even like to look at them at the zoo.  It’s a long and sort of cute story- I’ll tell ya sometime if you ask. 😉 Rattlesnakes, rutting elk, dangerous cliff-hugging roads?  No worries.  But bears…yikes.

3- Would I find enough to do with the kids during the 3 long days Matt is tied up at the trade show in Denver?  Because #2 means I won’t be taking them too deep into any bear-heavy-forests.  Obvs.

4- Would there be food and restrooms available on our crazy hikes/drives/adventures?  I mean, enough food for a irrationally-hungry expectant Mama Bear?!?  There are times a granola bar just won’t cut it, you know?  And bathrooms.  Between my over-active pregnant bladder and 4 children under 10 who have to do their business ALL THE BLESSED TIME, this was a legit concern!

5- Would the Airbnb’s I rented instead of hotels actually factually be a good deal?  Or would they be in sketch locations with poorly-lit parking and misrepresented awesomeness?  Would it actually be cool to stay in a local photographer’s personal home complete with chickens to care for in the backyard? Would it have been better to spend the $120 a night on a Holiday Inn?!?

The answer to all of these questions turned out to be….drum-roll…sort-of.  🙂  We sort-of handled the altitude/mountain roads.  We did not technically see a bear but sort-of put ourselves in the “Lair-o-the-Bear” literally and figuratively.  We kept ourselves sort-of-busy-enough with some unexpected places and spontaneous explorations in the Denver area. We sort-of had enough food and restrooms…but really, are there ever enough?! And the Airbnbs were sort-of awesome.  I’ll explain…but first, some pictures of our first day…

 

As you can tell, day one was rad.  And full.  And exhausting.  And worth it!  Looking back, we probably bit off more than we would have needed to chew on our first day adjusting to the altitude…maybe a shorter hike with less driving on Day 1 would have helped us avoid a bit of the dehydration/altitude queasies/headaches/fatigue we experienced as the day went on.  We only had one tiny little throw up and one scuffed and bleeding knee, but it was a long hard day on all our bodies.  We slept that night like very dry logs. That said, it was the most stunning and fulfilling Day-1 exposure to the beauty of Colorado and the mountains that I could have imagined.  Perfect. Overwhelming. It left us all breathless- literally and figuratively. 😉

 

Highlights:

  • Waking up to the incessant but charming clucking of the chickens outside our gorgeous sunroom daybed at the Airbnb home of a fun and funky local family we borrowed in Loveland. Seriously it was a cool place to stay and I’d highly recommend it for families traveling to the FoCo/Boulder/Estes/RMNP area! Check it out here…and tell Jane that Jess sent you. 🙂 http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/12234940?
  • An all-homemade-and-you-could-tell giant breakfast at Doug’s Day Diner in Loveland.  My breakfast burrito could have fed us all but I did an admirable job of cleaning it up on my own.
  • Meeting up with our DEAR friend “Uncle” Curtis to spend the day hiking and driving through Rocky Mountain National Park.  He left our little town for the adventure of the mountains earlier this year and we all miss him like crazy.  He made the perfect guide through our first days in his new “backyard” and takes amazing photos to boot.  You’ll see some of his work on this blog and I’ll try to point them out.  All the other photos are our personal iphone or GoPro masterpieces. And when you see the slim-dark-haired-heavily-tattooed hippie man in the photos hanging out with our children- don’t be alarmed- we know and love him and he’s not kidnapping Isabelle. 😉 Although all the kids asked if they could just stay in Colorado with him for a few more days/weeks/months. Next time.
  • The lakes along our 3-lake hike in RMNP.  They just kept getting better and better.  This was a perfect first-time mountain hike for a family like ours and I’d HIGHLY recommend it to anyone visiting the park.  Follow the signs for Nymph Lake, then up to Dream Lake, and please oh please don’t putter out before you reach Emerald Lake because it is truly stunning.  The crystal clear water truly does look emerald green from above and the mountain-peak-bowl it sits in is almost too much to visually take in all at once.
  • Driving up Trail Ridge Road to the Continental Divide and the mountain tundra highlands.  Big-big-sky views and cold clear mountain air=perfect!
  • Extremely satisfying and oh-so-tasty Indian dinner at the Taj Mahal in Fort Collins.  We LOVE Indian food and this was some of the best we’ve had, but it tasted even better than usual (especially the lamb vindaloo, butter chicken, that crazy spinach thing Curtis had, tons of naan and extra mango lassis) at the end of this long, lovely day!
  • indiandinnerfoco

mangolassifoco

Day Two-

I promise this will be shorter because it an entirely different but still awesome day.  Today Curt generously agreed was coerced and forced to take our family pictures, as he has for the past few years back home.  So we got all dressed up in our matching blues/yellows/grays and drove back into the park for photo shoots in mountain streams and on open meadows with aspens and the 14ers in the background.  I don’t think it would have mattered what we wore or if we smiled right- the settings were beautiful enough to make these photos some of our very best ever.   It will be tough to narrow it down for our Christmas card.  😉  For some reason I am riding the struggle bus when it comes to getting those images loaded onto my blog media library so…hopefully I’ll get off the bus soon and be able to show those to y’all.  Believe me in the meantime…they’re killer.  A highlight from the shoot was a close encounter with some rutting elk in the meadow.  As we said cheese, a very large male elk with a could-kill-you rack passed close behind us on its way to challenge another male for control of a group of lovely lady elk (elkesses?).  Some of us were a little scared and some of us thought it was one of the best parts of the trip.  Any guesses on who fell in which camp?

 

After the photos and the almost-impaling we said adieu to Curtis (who had to work…like a grown-up) and went exploring in Old Town Fort Collins.  We treated yo-selfs (Parks and Rec anyone?!) with fantastic local ice cream and coffee, bought proper backpacking gear at a second-hand sporting goods shop like a local, and ended up at one of the coolest shops we’ve ever found, Nature’s Own.  It’s this crazy-cool outpost for nature lovers/nerds like us full of fossils, mineral samples, art work, handmade jewelry and tons of tiny little natural trinkets for curious hands to touch.  Our kids had been saving their allowance money specifically to spend at this store and they had a grand old time spending their hard-earned cash on moonstone rings, compass/sundial combos, copper samples, geode necklaces and more treasures.  We finished the day with dinner al fresco/local craft beer (for Daddy)/cartwheels/general mischief in downtown FoCo and another sweet sweet night of sleep in our funky home-away-from-home.

 

Phew!  Thanks for sticking with me til the end…unless you haven’t in which case I do not thank you. But logically if you’re reading this you’re still with me, so thanks! 🙂 But be forewarned- this is only Part 1 of 3 when it comes to our CO trip PLUS I already warned you that I owe y’all a Natchez/Gulf Coast post as well.  So you may be excited to see and read this now, but in a week or so you’ll be so saturated with Huggs All Around photos and posts you’ll be cheering for us NOT to go anywhere so you can get back to your regularly scheduled online programing.  Time will tell.  For now, I’ll leave you to your mid-November revelry and get back to unpacking.

 

It’s Good to Go my friends,

Jess

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