travel

Colorado Gold

aspens

Colorado Gold

This weekend: Guanella Pass for aspen spotting. It’s a fall must-do if you live in Colorado (in my humble opinion).

aspens

Aspen Forest

Pure Joy: Walking through this aspen forest I made a wrong step and twisted my ankle. Don’t worry because I made a quick recovery with a Jason Bourne-style shoulder roll to the ground. It wasn’t graceful but at least I saved myself a trip to the ER with a broken ankle.

Guanell Pass aspens

Aspens at Guanella Pass

clear lake

Clear Lake

Throwing rocks in Clear Lake.

Mountain Flowers

Yellow Mountain Flower

Mountain Flowers: A little mountain flower.

guanella pass

At Clear Lake

aspens

Watch your step! Trust me.

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I need to a vacation from my vacation…

…And it was only 4 days! It was a quick trip to Wichita, KS. We loved seeing my lil’ sis, her awesome kids, my soon-to-be brother-in-law, and my mom (aaahhhh!). With only 2 full days in Wichita we had to pack a lot in.

First up was Tanganyika Wildlife Park. This is a 100% private zoo supported by visitors. It’s compact so you don’t spend all day walking. And, the best part is that it is interactive.

gibbons

Gibbon Island. Photos by Haley

zoo

My mom watching the Gibbons (me next to her in orange). Photos by Haley

lemur

Don’t touch the Lemurs, but you can have a chat.

Tanganyika has the ONLY Lemur feeding island in the United States. Don’t touch or pet them, but if you have a seat on the rocks one might climb up in your lap, like on my hubby’s lap (below).

lemur

Aren’t they cute?

lemur

Lemur on Hubby’s lap. Haley taking a photography break to text.

giraffe

Feeding the giraffes are always fun.

wichred kangaroo

Check out the joey in the pouch.

These Red Kangaroos seem tame but they are wild animals. Always keep an eye on your kids that they don’t touch the animals in a way that would cause a good day to go bad. Most of the Kangaroos were carrying a joey.

After the Zoo we went to downtown Wichita for the RiverFest. There were vendors selling homemade crafts, jewelry, and clothing. I bought a necklace made from a penny. It was too hot. So I took the kids back to the hotel to swim. We had planned to go back downtown for a fireworks show, but it rained and it was cancelled. Sad faces in the house.

build a bear

Another stuffed animal from Build a Bear…Patrick Star and Gary.

We shopped ’til we dropped. Grandma blessed the kids with (too much) spending money. Parker brought home 8 new stuffed animals. She is a little stuffed animal hoarder. Alex and Haley got a lot of matching clothes. Shelby got her ears pierced, again. And, Chance got skateboard stuff. We had Subway and Chinese at the food court. It’s always fun at the mall.

sucker

I didn’t buy this for her…

The other thing she is obsessive with is candy. She bought this sucker at the mall that is as big as her head.

pool

At the pool

The kids swam off their shopping buzz at the hotel pool. The water was freezing but the kids didn’t mind.

starbucks

Starbucks break.

Yes, she is 6, and I did give her a Starbucks. How do you think I keep her so small? Don’t freak out; it was a treat and she never drinks even half of it. And, I may have bribed the kids to get out of the pool with Starbucks.

icee

Gift from Aunt Shannon

Aunt Shannon was s kind enough to walk the kids to the park. On the way home they stopped and bought a 32 oz. Icee at the corner store. It was as big as Parker’s head (again). That’s okay. My kids were staying with her. Hubby and I went to the hotel. She paid the price of buying them pure frozen sugar goodness!

wind farm

Giant wind farm outside of Salina, KS

sky-blog

Just inside of Colorado, beautiful sky.

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Free Day at the Museum

denver skyline

View from the 4th floor.

Free day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science  |  View of the Denver Skyline on the 4th floor. Why have I never known about this view before now?

denver museum

Girls…take care of your skin!

“Expedition Health is about YOUR human body-how it is constantly changing and adapting in ways you can see, measure, and optimize through the choices you make.”

Hands On  |  At Exhibition Health you can see how you may look in the future if you smoke, drink or don’t use sun block. All I can say is, “Girls take care of your skin!”

museum

What is your mph when walking?

The girls walked in front of a blue screen and the image was captured on a monitor hanging on the wall. It measured their speed while walking, stride length and energy. I thought this was cute to see their pictures on the monitor, little sister following big sister.

denver museum

Little scientist.

In the lab we performed experiments on water fleas. We first tested the affect caffeine had on the heart rate of the water flea, then tested alcohol.

museum

Poor little water flea.

Alexandra was more into it than Parker. But it was still cool. We would have performed more experiments but Parker was bored. There were many to choose from.

fossils

Fossils

dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

denver museum

Lion Pride

I am a little weirded out by the  “stuffed” animals in the displays. It is so real looking that I expect the animals to move…and then they don’t. Creepy.

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Top 7 Road Trip Fights

Ah, nothing signals the official start of summer like a road trip. The open road can be exciting to some. The anticipation of the destination…the photo ops…the places never seen…travel stop food…the constant “Are we there yet?” question… and the “Don’t make me pull this car over!” response…

Pack several people in a small confined space of a car, or even a mini van can be too small, and you’re guaranteed to fight…at least once. And there will be meltdowns…there are always meltdowns (and not just from the kids either)!

I have had my share of road trips over the years. Some of which we now laugh about, and some we would like to forget.

We drove all the Way to Albuquerque to Sleep in the Truck Road Trip: Hubby (boyfriend at the time) and I got a wild hair to drive to Santa Fe, NM for a weekend. It was hot in the city…“So, why not?” we thought. Turns out there was a Harley Davidson convention in Santa Fe and there was not one vacate hotel room. We drove on to Albuquerque where we found no hotel rooms. We then drove East on I-40 where we were met at a motel by a family who had be driving West from Amarillo, Texas looking for a spare hotel room! We gave up, parked at a truck stop, reclined the front seats back and slept until about 5 a.m. We drove back to Denver the next day. This is why I do not go anywhere without a hotel reservation to this day! Ever.

Did She Just Leave us Road Trip: A group of us (6 teenage girls) went on a road trip/canoe/camping weekend that ended with one of the girls (who will remain nameless) driving home without us. There was a fight (among teenage girls, imagine that), some hurtful words were said. She threw the other girls’ stuff from her car into the parking lot. She left us in a fiery at a laundromat in Lebanon, Missouri. Fortunately we had my car, but that was 5 girls, and all our crap crammed into a Ford Escort. We did eventually forgive her.

And, then there was the infamous He Threw What Across the Interstate Road Trip: A lot of my road trip misery started as a teenager. One such family trip included my Mom’s boyfriend, let’s call him “Roger”. Roger pitched a toddler sized fit about the luggage rack Mom had rented for the trip. Actually it was a hillbilly luggage rack that consisted of two 2×4’s and suction cups stuck to the roof of the car and “secured” with rope. After many attempts to keep this thing in place speeding down Interstate 70 in Kansas, Roger had had enough. He pulled over and ripped the rack right off the car and throw it across I-70 into the median. Needless to say, Mom didn’t get her security deposit back.

So, in honor of our road trip we are taking this weekend, here are the (drum roll, please)…

Top 7 Things People Fight About on Road Trips

  1. Driving skills, including driving too slow, tailgating or changing lanes to often. I drive the speed limit, Hubby drives 5-8 miles per hour over it. Let’s just say I have never got a speeding ticket on vacation. Hubby has not been so lucky.
  2. The temperature inside the car. Someone is always too hot, or too cold, or wants the windows down. Yep.
  3. Directions. Don’t fight. Just do as I do, blame MapQuest.
  4. Where to eat. I like to get in, eat fast and get back on the road. Hubby hates eating fast food. Ugh.
  5. Swearing at other drivers or flipping them off. Never.
  6. The volume in the car. This includes the volume of the radio or the volume of the kids yelling at each other. Guilty.
  7. Smoking. To smoke, or not to smoke in the car, or smoking breaks. Neither of us are smokers so that is an easy one.

Are you surprised at what people fight over on road trips? I thought #6 would have ranked higher on the list. Do you have a memorable road trip fight? I’d love to hear about it.

{Source: junglejim103}

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Autumn Weekend…

I love autumn. I love the falling leaves, the crunch under foot, the colors & smell.

I hate the fall allergies we all seem to get. Saturday morning Parker woke up feeling sick with allergies again. She had stayed home from school on Thursday because she felt so miserable. So, I gave her some meds and we laid down on the couch. She laid on top of me and promptly fell back to sleep. Since I couldn’t move, I was forced to watch St. Elmo’s Fire. (Yes, forced!)

As a teenager I had a celebrity crush on Andrew McCarthy. Did you know he writes for Travel + Leisure magazine now? Anyhoo…

I drove the girls to meet up with friends at Chatfield Reservoir for a weekend of camping. I dropped them off, then I went back home to sleep in my own bed where I was warm and cozy. The girls love camping for some reason. Obviously they didn’t get that love from me!

Alex missed my soooo much. She texted me for half the night. Sunday, I drove back down to pick them up. Alex and I walked around Chatfield Res. The smell of the lake brought back childhood memories. There is something about the smell of a lake that is calming. She needed to spend time with me and talk. Drama.

Sparkles on the lake.

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A little bit of everything

Finally, I got out-of-town and into the mountains I love! This past weekend was possibly the last chance to see the Aspens in all their glory of gold and orange. Taking the advice of a friend we headed up Hwy 119 from Boulder to Nederland, Colorado.

fall photography

I posted over on my travel blog about hiking Boulder Falls, Rainbow Lakes and Aspen peeping.  I hope that you will join me over there!

Also…

I went back to Denver Botanic Gardens on Monday and tried out a few more photography tricks that I learned in my workshop last week.

photoraphy tricks

Generally I use a Circular Polarizer Filter to bring out the brilliant fall colors in leaves or punch up a blue sky. But, did you know you can use it to bring down the glare on leaves, water or water droplets? I didn’t. As you can see from the left to the right image above, the effect can be subtle but well worth using.

kizuna

My favorite part of the Denver Botanic Gardens? Monet Pond. I could sit here all day. The water looks like a black mirror. Right now the Gardens have a special exhibit: Kizuna West Meet East. I used a polarizing filter to cut the glare on the water and punch up the contrast.

water lilies

Water lilies at Monet Pond.

gardens

Water feature at Anna’s Overlook.

kizuna

View of Kizuna bamboo installation at Anna’s Overlook.

“Kizuna, meaning “the bonds between people” in Japanese, celebrates the profound influence Japan has had on the West with a presentation of large site-specific art installations in bamboo by internationally-known artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik.” ~Denver Botanic Gardens

The exhibit runs through November 4, 2012.

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