Posts Tagged With: Travel

Echo Lake Picnic

echo lakeLast week we threw some sandwiches and drinks in a cooler and headed to the mountains. I really needed my mountains-fix.

echo lake

Mountain duck taking a dip in the lake

mt. evans

The girls getting along…for now

scoripion pose

Alexandra’s scorpion pose

mountain flowers

Purple mountain flower

mountain flowers

Blue mountain flowers

On the way down the mountain we stopped at my favorite place to explore near Mt. Evans. This river, with its many little waterfalls, is just off the main road on the Idaho Springs side.

mt evans road

Love this to be my backyard

heart in nature

Heart bark

scorpion pose

Another scorpion pose

mt. evans

Portrait near a fall

mt evans road

They really wanted to take their shoes off…later they did

mt evans

The water is so cold

I feel truly blessed that in under one hour I can be in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. This is why I live here.

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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.


Gibbon Island. Photos by Haley


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


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).


Aren’t they cute?


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


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.


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.


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 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.


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


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!”


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.


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.





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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Tennessee: The List, part two

Continued from part one of our adventure in Tennessee…

southern bbq

Eat at: Tony Gore’s in Sevierville, TN. I should have know the portion of BBQ would be big after reading Tony’s slogan on the rooftop sign. “Never trust a skinny cook.” The portions are HUGE but the BBQ is also big on flavor. The smokers are right outside where you know your ribs have been cooking all-day-long.

{fried green tomatoes source}                    That is a half rack of ribs

Worth a try: fried green tomatoes at Tony Gore’s. My late friend, Kari, and I used to talk about this Southern fried dish a lot (and we love the movie by the same name). On a trip to the South, she made it one of her missions to find a diner to sample this dish. Well, she would have been seriously disappointed in me if I had passed up the opportunity to order these yummy fried tomatoes. (I was too busy chowing down to snap a picture.) And, the homemade BBQ Ranch dipping sauce is sooooo good! Tony knows what he is doing, that’s for sure!

Still wasn’t prepared for: how touristy Sevierville, Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg are. T-shirt airbrush and souvenirs shops are in every other building. Like a Tennessee Vegas minus the gambling.

PT Bartum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” The biggest “sucker” moment: paying to walk through Ripley’s Believe it or Not Oddities. Save your money and time…just buy the book!

There is no shortage of miniature golf courses either. Above is one of the Ripley’s Mini Golf we played.

What I hated: how Midwest and Southern entertainment portray Hillbillies to sell tickets to their over-priced variety shows, mini-golf, t-shirts, trinkets, or whatever. Not all hillbillies are backwoods-uneducated-no-shoe-wearing-toothless-moonshine-making-gun-toting-hicks. And, here’s a little history lesson: the Hatfields and McCoys were from the West Virgina-Kentucky area, not Tennessee. So why are the Hatfields and McCoys a mainstay of this tourist area? Maybe I am a little sensitive because I grew up in the Ozarks, and I personally know a few real Hillbillies and they’re not anything like that.

Part three…to be continued.

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Tennessee: The List, part one

We’re back from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And, I have to say, I left a little but of my heart there. I didn’t expect too. The Great Smoky Mountains were not on my Travel Bucket List. Not even close. But, I love mountains. These are not like the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They’re completely different, and both beautiful in different ways. God must love mountains too because He had fun creating The Great Smoky Mountains. Lush forests, rambling creeks, relaxing waterfalls, and rain. It rained everyday we were there. I am not complaining. I love the rain too.

the smokies

The view from our balcony

Thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, we had this amazing view from our suite. She shared her time-share dates with us. There were 4 suites that connected so that the family could hang out when it was raining.


An amazing suite: See…she does rock! And, they’re serious about not feeding the bears. You will be heavily fined if caught leaving peanut butter out to tempt them. We didn’t leave out peanut butter, but we heard rumors of other guests doing that.

Wish we had: spotted black bears. We were told that there are 2 mama bears with 2 cubs each living on the Resort property. Glenn’s cousin, who meet us there, was lucky enough to spot one of the mama bears as she crossed the resort road. The only wildlife we saw was a beaver and a crane.

What’s in our carry-on bags: magazines, coloring books, markers, summer journal, iPod/CD player, headphones/ear buds, snacks, camera, and blanket.

Ready for take-off!

Most surprising discovery: Alex was a scared by the turbulence. She is a seasoned flier.

Photography tip: give your 5-year-old your camera and let her take pictures out the plane window. You never know what amazing pictures you’ll get.

clouds from a plane

View from above

I wasn’t prepared for: how long it took to get a wheelchair for my mother-in-law at Denver International Airport. Traveling with two children, one senior citizen, and one husband who loves to proclaim, “I am just along for the ride,” (which means he is not taking any responsibility in the planning of this trip) is a lesson in patience.


What made the biggest “splash” with the kids: the Black Bear Waterpark at Westgate Resorts. The lazy river was a favorite.

I will never forget: the little African-American boy (maybe 5-years-old) who dropped his swim trunks and began peeing in the pool. He looked like one of those little peeing guardian angel statues you’d find in a Southern garden. (Do you have a visual yet?) It made me laugh so hard I almost peed in the pool too.

Delighted in: Alex being amazed by lightning bugs. After I caught one so she could see it up close, she innocently asked it they were hot. So cute.


Magic mountains: The Great Smoky Mountains. The clouds and fog roll in and it appears the mountains are on fire, or smoking. That is why they call them “The Smokies”. You must drive the scenic drive up to view the majestic mountains at Mont Le Conte (6,593 feet). Waterfalls are in abundance, as are 130 species of trees found among the canopies of the cove hardwood forests in The Smokies.


This was such a big trip that it is divided into three parts…to be continued.

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