Thursday, February 26, 2015

Colorado 2015

Our first trip to Colorado as a family can now be checked off our list!  Of course, Nick would like it to be the only destination on our list but I understand why, it is a beautiful place to visit.

We left on a Thursday morning and returned the following Monday evening, just in time to come home to some snow on the ground so it wasn't such a shock to the system.  Snow just looks prettier on the mountain tops than it does on the flint hills of Kansas, but either way I still prefer warmer weather.

Our plans were to snowmobile, ski, hike and sightsee while we were there.  And we accomplished it all without a major incident (well, there was one minor incident but I'll share that later).  Here are the pictures I took along the way...enjoy!

We made sure the kids had plenty to do during the drive there, lots of movies, books and toys!

Such a happy driver.

If you look really close at the brown says "Welcome to Colorful Colorado", but at 80mph it looked like a blur.

Our first stop was Good Times Snowmobiling, this is the same place Nick and I went last year.  The boys really enjoyed their ride.  I can still see Alec's smile while riding with me, it was from ear to ear and he kept saying over and over "this is soooo much fun mooooommmmmmm!!"

If you didn't want to snowmobile, you could try out the dog sleds.  They were howling away and ready to MUSH!

The boys started off on riding on the back but we flipped them to the front after a bit.  They could see a lot better and felt much more secure.

Our tour was 2 hours long and took us to the top of the Continental Divide, if I remember correctly, the elevation was 11,600ft.  

After the snowmobiling we headed to Vail.  Neither of us had been but we'd heard it's quite touristy and expensive, so we just planned on checking it out.  It was very busy and we quickly discovered it was the 2nd to last day of the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championship.  We rode the gondola that went to the very top which proved to be a beautiful view.

Alec checking out the Ice Skating Rink 

At the top of the gondola ride we got out to enjoy the breathtaking view.  The boys visited a Nature Center they had up there and I enjoyed watching the effortless skiers whiz by.

A view from inside the gondola looking down at Vail.

Here are the boys inside the gondola.  Not sure why Alec looks so scared, maybe it's because your inside this glass pod that is dangling hundreds of feet off the ground by one lonely cable?

Our second day was our FIRST day of skiing.  We went to Loveland Ski Area which is much less tourist-y and a bit more low key.  We enrolled the boys in an all day ski lesson (10-3:30pm) while Nick and I enrolled in a 2.5 hour ski lesson together.  We stayed at Loveland Valley (mainly for beginners) but had the option of going to the other side of the mountain called Loveland Basin (mainly NOT for beginners). For the record, I took a ski lesson at Snow Creek in Missouri the weekend before our trip to practice.  Let's just say that we have a love/hate relationship. Grrrrr....



After Nick and I finished our lesson we took off our blood flow restricting boots and had lunch before  "hitting the slopes".  No seriously, I hit the slopes.  With my face, my back, my butt, my elbows.  I hate to make this skiing portion all about me, but seriously, I'd LOVE to be good at it and I just don't think it likes me.  

While I was more than ok with staying on the bunny slopes where I didn't fall often, Nick was all about hopping on some lift that took us waaaaay up high.  I went along and kept my positive thoughts with me.  I must say I didn't fall off the chair lift, not even one time, so there's an improvement over our ski trip 3 years ago. :)

One of my favorite parts were the views from the chairlift rides.

At the top of our first GREEN run.  See that 3 year old child in the background...? Kids there are insanely talented! 

(I fell approximately 92 times coming down this run, by the way.  Even though it's technically for beginners, it had several VERY STEEP areas with VERY NARROW trails that had VERY SCARY cliffs on the edges of them.  Not once during my lessons did they teach me how to maneuver my skis to get me out of there safely.)

 After this one run we did my phone started ringing come to find out it was the Alec's ski instructor.  "He's done, he's frustrated and he's quit, you need to come get him."  Much to Nick's disappointment, we did just that.  He was ready to go back up the lift and do it all over again (and he was welcome to...alone.) but we had to retrieve our little one instead.

Watching Ethan finish up his lesson.

The next day was our last, so we agreed we'd find a hiking area and then head back to Loveland Ski for another try (the kids went to child care and didn't ski). 

We found a wonderful hiking area that had plenty of beautiful views and plenty of snow.  It was a trail that many locals utilize and we were told to keep an eye open for moose.  Unfortunately we didn't spot one but we were sure we spotted some moose there's that.  

This was another one of the highlights of our trip, the views were like those you'd see on postcards and in magazines.  Toward the middle of our hike it began to snow, right on queue. 

We came across 2 or 3 of these little log bridges with running water below.  I thought for sure one of us would fall in but we survived!

Ethan was fearless, he made me have a mini panic attack every 5 minutes.  You look away for a second and he's climbing on or up something.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but he climbed on this very large boulder that had slippery snow on top of it and who knows what on the other side.  Alec wanted help up and down from here and I was happy for that.

Trying to catch the fresh snow

Nick tested out his new boots and stepped out into the freezing creek (his feet stayed dry, by the way).

After our hike we headed back to Loveland Ski.  We dropped the kids off at the kid area and went to get our skis and safety gear (helmets are cool now days, did you know that?!).  Nick talked me into going to the Valley this time, that is the area NOT for beginners...remember?  

The weather was much colder, windier and it began snowing but we marched on and went straight to Chairlift #2.  This took you to the lower basin and kept you on a beginner slope that wasn't so long.  I managed not to fall one time, success!  I was 100% ok staying on this run and not advancing. Nick was able to pick up his speed and was pretty impressive for his 3rd time ever on skis.  He somehow convinced me to return to Chairlift #2 and rather than unloaded at the first stop, he talked me into riding the lift to the VERY TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN and ski the TWO miles down.  Yes, it was all a green trail but I now know that green does not mean "easy for everyone".  

There were plenty of positives to be told though.  Again, the chairlift ride was one of my favorites.  The views (I'm a broken record) were breathtaking and I even managed to take a few pictures.  Nick didn't like the lifts and kept talking about how they were tested for safety and what should we do if the cable snap, he was ruining my views, ha!

At the (tippy) top of the mountain was a heated building that served food and beverages.  We popped in and enjoyed an excellent cup of hot chocolate before slipping, er, skiing down.  The first part of the run is something called a bowl.  I have no idea what this means other than it wasn't necessarily a normal trail but more of a bowl shaped area that spilled into the typical runs. Maybe it's supposed to be fun?  I don't know.

It was really snowing at this point and everything in my sight was pure white, I couldn't make out much other than Nick's blur of a red jacket 400 yards in front of me.  I did my best to trust my skis beneath my feet like I was taught but couldn't help but pick up too much speed.  Somehow, by the grace of God, we both made it down safely.  I'm pretty sure Nick made it down without falling at all, he's a showoff.  

For the final part of my pity party story--we agreed to go back to trusty ol' Chairlift #2 and repeat what we'd just done (Nick's idea, not mine).  I wiped out about 3 times in the snowy bowl place and began cursing to myself, getting frustrated. I saw Nick way in front of me looking as though he'd been skiing since he was 3, so effortlessly, for a beginner anyway.  I continued on and somehow picked up way too much speed, going faster than I ever have before. It felt like 120mph.  I panicked and took a pretty hard fall face first.  Somehow I twisted my knee badly while my skis stayed on, which only made it worse. I'm not the type to let pride get in my way so I accepted the help of a very nice passerby and was completely fine with Ski Patrol coming to rescue me.  Luckily Nick had been taking a break and waiting for me to catch up so he saw the entire thing happen, otherwise he'd have thought I fell off the cliff when I didn't show up at the bottom.

He resisted the urge to take a picture of ski patrol rescuing me, but it looked something like this I'm sure:
and then this...

I give much respect to those guys, they were awesome and the ride down was kind of fun.  If your claustrophobic though, it'd be a nightmare!

But we truly did have quite the experience.  I wished I'd taken more pictures but my focus was on staying alive so I didn't get many.

This is where Nick starts talking about chairlift safety and the distance between our feet and the ground.  So reassuring.

 This picture is from the little restaurant area at the top lift #2.  To the left is the spout of the "bowl" area and the lift is to the right.  The visibility was dismal due to the snow falling but it was still so peaceful.

The final photo of me before "The Big Fall" on little ol' Turtle Creek EASY trail. 

And in case anyone is concerned about my well-being (thank you, mom)...I hobbled around like a lady with a broken leg for about 4 days.  My doctor said I sprained a ligament in my knee but would require specialist to see the extent of the damage.  Over the next several days my knee got better so I'm all good.  And yes, I WILL ski again. 

Here are some videos we took of the boys.  Ethan did a really good job and he said skiing was his favorite part of the trip.  Alec seemed to be doing good during the first half of his class but I'm not too surprised he was over it during the last half.  That's a lot of work getting up after falls!

Ethan in the neon green pants



As we were leaving Frisco I snapped this beautiful picture.

How we all felt on the way home.

Goodbye Colorado, until next time!

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