Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 7: Temperate Rainforest & Seattle

From Kalaloch Lodge, we headed to Seattle via the Olympic National Park. One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was hike in a temperate rainforest.

We were able to stop by Lake Quinalt and do just that! (Be sure to click the images to see more detail.)

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

Mossy Tree

Temperate Rainforest

Mossy Maple Bottom

Mossy Maple Top

Some of the trees were hard to identify by their trunks, because they were just completely covered in moss. We were startled by one tree (above) when we saw it was a MAPLE. What? How crazy is that??

The other thing that was just completely mind-boggling was the fact that there were NO BUGS. What? You can go hiking in a rainforest and not be carried away or eaten alive?? Unbelievable! (But true!)

The above photos do not do this temperate rainforest justice. It was an amazingly magical place!

After our hike, we headed on into Seattle. This time, our hotel was close to the Space Needle. We discovered that our room was on the other side of the building from the Space Needle, but we still had a view of it!

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

You get the picture (or three), but here it is again!

Space Needle

The next day, we met a friend who lives in the area and we went to explore things we’d not had a chance to the last time we were in Seattle.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

Pike's Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

Pike’s Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

And just like that, it was time to head home. When we travel, we pack efficiently. No one believes us, but here’s our luggage. All three of us share the big red bag. The two backpacks are carry-ons, as is my red bag. We also brought along two tote bags that fold up into tiny pouches, but we didn’t even need them! Yeah!

How to Pack Light

Another trick? We have a luggage scale. That big red suitcase is 48.5 lbs on the nose, baby! (We try to leave some wiggle room when dealing with the 50 lb weight limit.)

We had such an amazing trip. These photos are just the tip of the ice-berg, and these memories will last a lifetime.

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in VictoriaPart 5: Victoria, and Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge

On that Tuesday, we headed for the ferry. As luck would have it, our hotel was RIGHT BY the ferry dock, so getting there wasn’t even an issue. (It was good we were close, because we needed to be there 90-minutes ahead, per regulations.) We had reservations, and everything went without a hitch.

While we were waiting, Claire yells, “SASQUATCH! I found Sasquatch! There’s a Sasquatch ON OUR CAR!”

What?

Okay, let me back up.

We’d told Claire this trip was to explore British Columbia, see the grandparents at the car show, explore the Olympic Coast, and… FIND SASQUATCH. Everywhere we’d hiked would have been PERFECT for Sasquatch, and we’d point that out…every time, but we’d not found him yet.

…until now.

She was adamant, and we were confused. “On OUR car? You mean THIS car, or someone has a Subaru?” I asked, looking at the cars in line behind us. “No! OUR car. THIS car! The Jeep!” she said.

When she pointed it out, we couldn’t believe it.

(As always, click photos to enlarge!)

Sasquatch!

Sasquatch!

SASQUATCH HAD BEEN FOLLOWING US THE WHOLE WAY! Literally. Jeep had painted this on the inside of the back window, right above the windshield wiper. What?? How clever and cool! (You couldn’t see it from the outside because of the tinted windows, and you really had to be looking right at it to notice it!)

Well played, Jeep. Well played!
(This didn’t meant we actually stopped looking for ANOTHER Sasquatch…)

While on the ferry, we saw ORCAS! Yes! This is the first time we’ve seen whales, and to say we were extremely excited about this is putting it mildly! We saw five spouts from the blowholes and two tails. Wow! What a treat!!

From Port Angeles, we made our way to the Olympic Coast. Again, we were greeted with fantastic views and scenery. This area is so lush! It was sunny again (still), so I’m thinking those tall tales about it being gloomy all the time are just a way to keep people from moving there! 😉

Kalaloch Lodge was our next stop on the itinerary. At check-in, I found out I’d been pronouncing this wrong in my head. (I’d been saying “Calla-lock,” when, in fact, it’s pronounced “Clay-lock.” Good to know!

This lodge has no TVs or phones in the room, and there is no Wi-Fi. We’d been unplugged from Social Media this entire trip, so that didn’t bother me. My phone had just enough oomph in some places to send quick texts, so I told one of my sisters to pull up the Kalaloch Lodge Webcam.

I told her we’d be down in that area and to see if she could see us on the monitor.

Sure enough! She was able to capture us! (The screen refreshes every 30 seconds, so these were fun to see!) If you look, you can see us. We’re the group of three exploring on this side of that huge log.

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

What may be hard to see in these photos is that it’s NOT gloomy there! There is sun and blue skies. (You can *almost* see it in the reflection on the water in one of the pictures.)

Mom and Claire Kalaloch Lodge

After dinner and a good night’s rest, we set out to explore some more!

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Rope Assist - Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we'd explored, this one had a nice Rope Assit! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the "real" steps!

Rope Assist – Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we’d explored, this one had a nice Rope Assist! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the “real” steps!

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

More Mist

More Mist

Mist and Waves

Mist and Waves

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

This is called the "Tree House." All that's left for the ceiling are roots!

This is called the “Tree House.” All that’s left for the ceiling are roots!

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

This picture makes me smile! Hair tied up? Check. Three layers, flip-flops, and pants rolled up? Check. Sand dollars safe in hand? Check. Ready for the picture? Nope.

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some!

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some! (We didn’t find them on the driftwood…that would have been way too easy!)

Castle Builders hard at work

Castle Builders hard at work

Sunset on another beautiful day.

Sunset on another beautiful day.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

Next stop? Hiking through a temperate rainforest and exploring Seattle!

Stay tuned!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in Victoria, and Part 5: Victoria!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 5: Victoria

After Deuce Days, we spent the evening exploring Victoria.

Water Taxis in a Row

Water Taxis in a Row

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

By Fisherman's Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

By Fisherman’s Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We spent the next morning with the grandparents, killing time before they took off on the ferry back to the US. We found a fun vendor by the harbor, and Claire found a neat cat hat!

Cat Hat

Claire in a Cat Hat

After lunch, we went exploring along the coast, and we did some letterboxing.

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Willow Beach

Willow Beach

Beach Geese?

The Beach Geese cracked us up!

Beautiful hanging flowers

Beautiful hanging flowers

I couldn't stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I'll do a whole post on just the flowers...

I couldn’t stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I’d have enough to do a whole website on just the flowers!

Stay tuned for more!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthouse, and Part 4: Deuce Days in Victoria!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 4: Deuce Days in Victoria

After our adventures on the way from Port Renfrew, we checked into our hotel in Victoria and touched base with the grandparents. Wait. What? Yes! The grandparents were going to be attending Deuce Days in Victoria. As luck (or ultra pre-advanced planning) would have it, our trips to British Columbia were going to coincide.

This is a car show that happens every three years in Victoria, British Columbia. The grandparents (my inlaws) have gone to the last four of them. They drive Papa’s 1932 Ford, “the little yellow car,” from Omaha all the way to Victoria for the show!

(As always, click to enlarge photos.)

"Daey and Papa"

“Daey and Papa”

This year’s show boasted 1,500 cars (all older than 1951), and over 100,000 people in attendance. Yes, really! The city of Victoria did an amazing job welcoming everyone and handling the crowds, and we had a great time!

Here are some photos from Deuce Days:

The Little Yellow Car

The Little Yellow Car

The Yellow Deuce Saga

The Yellow Deuce Saga

Nebraska

Nebraska

32

32

Hoods Belong in Jail

Hoods Belong in Jail

Claire and JoAnn Little Yellow Car

Yes, there were just a few people there...

Yes, there were just a few people there…

Stay tuned for more from Victoria!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port Renfrew, and Part 3: Random Dragons and a lighthouse!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 3: Random Dragons and a Lighthouse

Here is Part 3! (Here is Part 1 and Part 2. As always, click on the images to see more detail.)

Panorama of the driftwood, Port Renfrew

Panorama of the driftwood, Port Renfrew

Next on the agenda was going to be driving from Port Renfrew to Victoria. It was going to take us a couple of hours, so we could leisurely leave the Bed and Breakfast and then see what adventure was waiting to be discovered between here and there.

So, that morning, we did more exploring of the beach by our Bed and Breakfast when the tide was out. This time, we discovered what we consider to be “driftwood.” Everywhere else, so far has boasted “drift LOGS” or “drift TREES.” Of course, what they lacked in size, they made up for in sheer quantity! What?? Look at this! (If you look in the panorama above, you can see the WALL of driftwood!!)

If only he could find a suitable walking stick in this lousy collection...

If only he could find a suitable walking stick in this lousy collection…

After our morning hike, we loaded up the car and set out. As we were toodling along the highway (I would say, “zipping,” but when the speed limits are what they are, we were NOT zipping), we saw DRAGONS on a gate. We HAD to stop to check this out! Dragons!? Are you kidding?!

Dragon 1

Dragon 1b

Dragon 2

Dragon 2b

As we flipped a u-turn and got closer to get some pictures (a sign even said we could take pictures!), we noticed it was a “Modern Day Blacksmith” and they were open that day from 11am to 4pm and it suggested we come on up and check it out. As luck would have it, it was just after 11am, so we threw caution to the wind and made our way up the one-way, steep driveway to see what this was all about.

More Dragons

We pulled into a parking spot and were greeted by Marty Gilbertson of Foggy Mountain Forge. He and his son, Justin, were hard at work on a magnificent chandelier with metal roses curling around the base.

Marty took us into the shop and showed us how a modern-day blacksmith works. In the process, he created a Raven Feather for Claire!

See the iridescence? Marty showed us how that was created! Absolutely amazing.

See the iridescence? Marty showed us how that was created! Absolutely amazing.

It was amazing watching him work!

Blacksmith

Dragons?? Hand-made Raven feathers?? What a random and awesome find!

Marty was able to suggest a place for us to try for lunch (Shirley Delicious…and it WAS…), and we noticed some of his handiwork in the washroom.

Roses

Roses

From the parking lot of the cafe, we noticed a sign for a lighthouse! We’re suckers for lighthouses, so off we went on another adventure.

Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse 2

Sheringham Point Lighthouse 1

From there, we made our way to Victoria!
Stay tuned for more of the adventure!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 2: Goats on a Roof and Port Renfrew

Blowin' bubbles on a ferry

Blowin’ bubbles on a ferry

After two days in Vancouver (Part 1), we drove our car onto the ferry and went from Vancouver to Nanaimo. I’d heard rumors of GOATS on a ROOF in a town just a little bit up the coast, so we HAD to go. ( (As always, feel free to enlarge the photos by clicking on them!)

Sure enough!

GOATS ON A ROOF!

GOATS ON A ROOF!

This was our view from lunch! Goats!? ON A ROOF.

This was our view from lunch! Goats!? ON A ROOF.

From the goats on the roof of the Old City Market in Coombs, we drove across Vancouver Island over to Port Renfrew. It’s on the western coast, and is accessible by a logging road.

A fun thing we discovered about Canada? Well, we can sum it up by this imaginary conversation we had:

“Well, we’re over budget on this roads project. Thoughts?”
“I know how we can save a TON of money.”
“How?”
“Well, the bridges are way too extravagant in this current plan. Why do you need two lanes? Why do you need a lane that goes in both directions at the same time? That’s crazy! You really only need ONE lane. It’s not like anyone will be going in BOTH directions on the bridges at the SAME TIME.”
“Excellent. Problem solved!”

Nearly every bridge we took on Vancouver Island. No joke.

Nearly every bridge we took on Vancouver Island. No room to spare! No joke.

For the record, one bridge was so long we couldn’t see the END of it before we actually got ON it…and there WAS someone trying to come our way! So, we backed up! …Yes, backwards back to the beginning of the bridge! …and let them pass. It’s a good thing we’re not faint of heart.

I will say, though, that Vancouver and all the places we visited on Vancouver Island has THE MOST POLITE drivers EVER. It was sad, actually, how OBVIOUS and WEIRD it seemed to us that everyone was calm, chill, and polite. It should be that way everywhere, but it’s NOT.

It was SUNNY when we rolled into Port Renfrew! The locals didn't know what the glowing ball in the sky was! This was the beach right outside our door at the Bed and Breakfast.

It was SUNNY when we rolled into Port Renfrew! The locals didn’t know what the glowing ball in the sky was! This was the beach right outside our door at the Bed and Breakfast.

More sunny beach...

More sunny beach…

...and more sunny beach!

…and more sunny beach!

The sun followed us on our entire vacation. Everywhere we went, the locals were out basking in it. (I was looking forward to the break from the sun for once!) I made the best of it. 😉

The above pictures show the tide in. The following pictures show the tide out!

Port Renfrew Pano Tide Out

This is a panorama of our beach, the next day. You can see the tide is OUT in this one!

Driftwood Tide Out Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew Tide Way Out

We could walk so far out with the tide out!

Beautiful green swirls left by the receding tide.

Beautiful green swirls left by the receding tide.

Beautiful green rocks!

Beautiful green rocks!

Claire exploring the green rocks.

Claire exploring the green rocks.

Those “driftwood” pieces in the pictures above are MASSIVE trees. It was nearly impossible to get the perspective to show you just how BIG they were. They were easily 20-feet in diameter. No lie!

Some perspective!

Some perspective!

We had fun taking pictures on them, and we used this one as a "walkway" down the sloping beach!

We had fun taking pictures on them, and we used this one as a “walkway” down the sloping beach!

On our second day in Port Renfrew, we drove to the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and hiked around here. Who is Juan de Fuca? Well, I looked it up, and then we spent a while giggling about this. Juan de Fuca was actually a Greek explorer by the name of Ioánnis Phokás. He was hired by the King of Spain in the late 1500s to explore this area. He discovered this strait.

Yes. A Spanish King hired a Greek man to explore what is now Canada, and history refers to him by his Spanish-translated name. In Canada. Just so we’re clear. 😉

Anyway, regardless of what you call it, it’s absolutely beautiful!

Panorama of Botany Bay, Juan de Fuca Park

Panorama of Botany Bay, Juan de Fuca Park

Nice view for our picnic lunch that day!

Nice view for our picnic lunch that day!

Checking out the tidepools

Checking out the tidepools

A whole world lives in this one!

A whole world lives in this one!

This one is empty except for our feet!

This one is empty except for our feet!

The hiking trail had some clever "bridges."

The hiking trail had some clever “bridges.”

That night, we checked out the sunset!

That night, we checked out the sunset!

...and did some more posing on huge logs!

…and did some more posing on huge logs!

...and hiked in the twilight.

…and hiked & climbed in the twilight.

Stay tuned for our next installment!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 1: Vancouver

In July, we took a trip to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. We had a FANTASTIC time. I’m sorting through the photos and reliving every wonderful moment. (Our summer has been brutal, so we NEEDED a trip to make nice, happy memories!)

We left bright and early on July 19th. We got back to the house with just a few minutes to spare before July 31st rolled over on the calendar. We were exhausted and happy. Our hearts were full. School is just around the corner, and I’m not ready to let summer go. Not yet.

So, without further ado, here are some photos from our trip! (As always, feel free to enlarge the photos by clicking on them!)

Mt. Rainier!

Mt. Rainier! We circled a few times before landing in Seattle. The view of this beauty was amazing!

We stopped for lunch in Everett, WA.

We rented a Jeep Renegade in Seattle and headed north! We stopped for lunch in Everett, WA. Not a bad view, huh??

Our first night there, we went out to explore Vancouver: These leaves in the background were HUGE!

Our first night there, we went out to explore Vancouver: These leaves in the background were HUGE!

These hydrangea were the size of my head! Speaking of heads, I could NOT wrap my mind around these colors! Absolutely gorgeous!

These hydrangea were the size of my head! Speaking of heads, I could NOT wrap my mind around these colors! Absolutely gorgeous!

No, YOU took a picture of the fancy-schmancy "washroom" (restroom) in a Vancouver restaurant! We couldn't get it all in one picture!

No, YOU took a picture of the fancy-schmancy “washroom” (restroom) in a Vancouver restaurant! We couldn’t get it all in one picture!

The next day, we explored Stanley Park. Ravens in a dead tree. Creepy! (and cool!)

The next day, we explored Stanley Park. Ravens in a dead tree. Creepy! (and cool!)

Siwash Rock, Seawall around Stanley Park, Panorama

Siwash Rock, Seawall around Stanley Park, Panorama

We found a really tiny tree stump!

Look at the teeny tiny tree stump we found on a hiking path in Stanley Park, Vancouver! (For reference, my husband is 6’2″!!)

...and really tiny trees!

…and really tiny trees!

Totem Poles

Totem Poles

Panorama of Stanley Park, part of the Seawall.

Panorama of Stanley Park, part of the Seawall.

I’d anticipated walking 6-miles around the Seawall of Stanley Park. I knew we could easily do that in a day, and we could do so at our leisure. (We’d picked a hotel that was close to the park for this very reason!) There were some letterboxes hidden in the park, and we wanted to add CANADA to our list of destination finds! (And we were successful! Yeah!) We also wanted to see some places where they filmed one of our favorite shows, Psych! (Again, a success!)

We had gorgeous weather (SUNSHINE!),and we loved that the bicyclists and rollerbladers were forced to use a separate path than the pedestrians! We didn’t have to look over our shoulders and could enjoy our walk! What I had NOT anticipated was that all the added trails and stairs we did actually equalled 29,000 (yes, THOUSAND) steps before we got back to our hotel! Yes, that’s 13 miles! For realz, yo! After we collapsed in the room (quite literally), we headed out again that night in search of more adventure. According to the apps on our phones, we ended up with 15 MILES of hiking that day. Not too shabby!

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

John Wayne and the Covered Bridge

What do John Wayne and the Covered Bridges have to do with each other? Well, that’s simple: Madison County, Iowa!

Yes! John Wayne’s birthplace is in Winterset, which is a tiny town nestled in Madison County, the home of the famous Covered Bridges.

The reason for our impromptu trip to Iowa was one of great sadness, so we decided to lighten the mood and stop to see some attractions on our trek back to Colorado.

Claire is a HUGE fan of John Wayne. He’s her favorite actor. Yes, really. She’s loved him for at least a couple of years now. I know this isn’t the first person you think a 10-year old would admire, but there you have it!

John Wayne’s Birthplace and Museum aren’t too far off our path home, and on the way there, we decided to stop off at one of the famous covered bridges. One right along our route was the Hogback Bridge.

Madison County Bridge

Two bridges

As you can see in one of the photos, we are no longer allowed to drive across the bridge. It was completely safe to explore on foot, so we did just that!

After the bridge, we made our way to Winterset to John Wayne’s Birthplace and Museum. She loved it!

JW statue outside

JW statue inside

Dinosaur National Monument

For Fall Break, after staying in Steamboat Springs for the night, we were able to head out west to Dinosaur National Monument. This is a FANTASTIC park that straddles Utah and Colorado. In fact, we lost track of when we were in which state. We saw dinosaur fossils; we got to touch huge dinosaur bones; we saw petroglyphs, and we camped at the end of a 14-mile 4×4 road. Our campsite was amazing, and the hikes we did lent themselves to once-in-a-lifetime views.

We had such a marvelous time.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is about 32,000 of them! (give or take an extra hundred for the captions…).

Enjoy!

Click on the photos to enlarge, if you so choose.

1 Night in Steamboat

Our view from the hotel room balcony in Steamboat Springs. Magical!

Dinosaur is in CO and UT

Dinosaur is in CO and UT

 

Look! We found one of the Dinosaur heads!

Look! We found one of the Dinosaur heads!

 

Both of these models did a great job of not wiggling while I took the picture.

Both of these models did a great job of not wiggling while I took the picture.

 

So many bones

So many bones

Yes, we got to touch a dinosaur bone. For realz, yo!

Yes, we got to touch a dinosaur bone. For realz, yo!

 

A cutie and some Petroglyphs

A cutie and some Petroglyphs

 

You may have to click on the photo to see the road we're taking. It's 4x4, all the way to Echo Park Campground. Sue (the Subaru) was in HEAVEN. (And we didn't die.)

You may have to click on the photo to see the road we’re taking. It’s 4×4, all the way to Echo Park Campground. Sue (the Subaru) was in HEAVEN. (And we didn’t die.)

 

It's awesome having an extra helper set up the campsite!

It’s awesome having an extra helper set up the campsite!

 

Our campsite was surrounded by TALL cliffs. The sun didn't even hit our campsite until after 9am! We brushed our hair in the sunshine and took a selfie, because of course we did.

Our campsite was surrounded by TALL cliffs. The sun didn’t even hit our campsite until after 9am! We brushed our hair in the sunshine and took a selfie, because of course we did.

 

View from campsite of Steamboat Rock (from Echo Park Campground, not to be confused with the Steamboat Springs where we stayed the first night!)

View from campsite of Steamboat Rock (from Echo Park Campground, not to be confused with the Steamboat Springs where we stayed the first night!)

 

Steamboat Rock up close. Incredibly difficult to capture the true majesty of it.

Steamboat Rock up close. Incredibly difficult to capture the true majesty of it.

 

Confluence Trail led us to the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River

Confluence Trail led us to the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River. See my two there?

 

Stone Skipping Lesson. (As you can see, there were hardly any stones to choose from... *cough*)

Stone Skipping Lesson. (As you can see, there were hardly any stones to choose from… *cough*)

 

River Hike Confluence Trail - The colors are just gorgeous!

River Hike Confluence Trail – The colors are just gorgeous! The river and Steamboat Rock are to the right of us, down the bank.

We made it back to our campsite for lunch.

We made it back to our campsite for lunch.

 

After lunch, we decided to hike Mitten Park Trail, on the other side of our campground. This looks easy!

After lunch, we decided to hike Mitten Park Trail, on the other side of our campground. It’s already shaded by the cliffs. This looks easy!

 

This part of the trail looks super-easy. Right? Right.

This part of the trail looks super-easy. Right? Right.

 

Claire found a section where the sand was two different colors. Blonde and redhead. Hmm. Familiar?

Claire found a section where the sand was two different colors. Blonde and redhead. Hmm. Familiar?

 

Waitaminute. This isn't an easy trail after all!

Waitaminute. This isn’t an easy trail after all! And, yes, the rest of the trail was harrowing. I was duped!

See the rafters through the artistic-looking tree? Be careful. Don't fall to your death. No pressure.

See the rafters through the artistic-looking tree? Be careful. Don’t fall to your death. No pressure.

 

Our campsite is way down there!

Our campsite is way down there!

 

See? I've marked it!

See? I’ve marked it!

 

Yes, this is the trail. This is on the way back down. Do you see where Claire is pointing? Yes, that's a cactus. Ask me how I found it on the way up!! (Yep, put my hand right in it while trying to hoist myself over a boulder. That is decidedly ill-advised.)

Yes, this is the trail. This photo was taken on the way back down, because I was too upset to take a photo on the way up. Why? Well, do you see where Claire is pointing? Yes, that’s a cactus. Ask me how I found it on the way up!! (Yep, put my hand right in it while trying to hoist myself over a boulder. That is decidedly ill-advised.)

 

Petroglyphs!

Petroglyphs!

 

More Petroglyphs!

More Petroglyphs!

We didn't slip and fall to our deaths. We made it down (relatively) safely. Or, this is all a dream...

Headed down…

 

We didn't slip and fall to our deaths. We made it down (relatively) safely. Or, this is all a dream...

We didn’t slip and fall to our deaths. We made it down (relatively) safely. Or, this is all a dream…

 

Back at camp, Dad has Claire work on her whittling skills.

Back at camp, Dad has Claire work on her whittling skills.

 

The next day, on the way out, we stopped at Whispering Cave.

The next day, on the way out, we stopped at Whispering Cave.

 

Inside Whispering Cave

Inside Whispering Cave

 

Side-by-side photos. Left: pictures we took of the "dot" petroplyghs. Right: an explanation.

Side-by-side photos. Left: pictures we took of the “dot” petroplyghs. Right: an explanation.

 

A photo from the 4x4 road of the 4x4 road on the way out. Goodbye, Echo Park! Goodbye, Dinosaur! What a fantastic adventure!

A photo from the 4×4 road of the 4×4 road on the way out. Goodbye, Echo Park! Goodbye, Dinosaur! What a fantastic adventure!

Steamboat Springs!

It’s been almost 4-years since we’ve been to Steamboat Springs! We thought it was well-past time to return! Originally, we were going to spend the night at our favorite hotel and then use Steamboat Springs as a spring-board for a longer trip out west to go camping for Labor Day weekend. The more we researched, however, the more we realized we weren’t alone in our planning.

Rather than give up on the idea of escaping if only for a short break, we kept the reservations at our favorite hotel in Steamboat and will go camping out west during a Fall Break that not everyone has. 😉

Yet again, Steamboat did not disappoint.

We broke the shorty out early and headed for the hills! (Okay, truth be told, I filled out all the requisite Excused Absence Forms for early dismissal, and she’s getting tall! …and they were mountains, not hills!)

We drove through some rain, but not enough to damper our excitement.

At one point in the drive, we were right at cloud level!

At one point in the drive, we were right at cloud level!

At another point, the highway completely disappeared and we were driving on what can only be described as a good ol’ mud road. The construction sign earlier said, “Rough Road,” and we’re thinking the usage of the word “Road” was rather liberal. THIS sign along that 6-mile stretch made us laugh out loud!

Lanes? There are lanes?

Uneven Lanes? Really? Also, there are lanes?

You should see Sue. We didn’t get any mud on the windows, but that’s about it.

Muddy Sue

Muddy Sue

We checked into the Rabbit Ears Motel, our favorite place to stay in Steamboat. (Pro-tip: They have river view rooms with a balcony AND discount tickets to the hot springs literally across the street! Listening to the river as we fell asleep was just an added bonus!) We went to our favorite restaurant, Mahogany’s, and it was still as fantastic as we remember. After dinner, we went back to the hot springs and soaked and played for over two hours before going to bed. What a fantastic night!

Rabbit Ears Motel Labor Day 2015

The next day, hiking was on the agenda before we pointed our muddy car in the direction of home.

We opted to do Fish Creek Falls. The first part of the hike was listed as “easy,” because it was a trail that was only 1/4 of a mile and very accessible down to a gorgeous waterfall. You could cross the bridge and do a “moderate” trail on to the next waterfall up, with an even more strenuous part you could do after that up to the lake, if you chose.

First Bridge

First Bridge

Fish Creek Falls from the First Bridge

Fish Creek Falls from the First Bridge

We compromised and did the moderate trail to the second bridge. Poor Daddy insisted that the “moderate” trail we had just done was “easy,” and he wanted to go even farther to the lake, but after weighing the importance of hiking in peace while NOT carrying a body (or two), he opted to be happy with the second bridge and cute little waterfall & stream to explore.

Roots

Roots. You gotta give your kid roots & wings.

Still, that part of the hike was not for the faint of heart. Claire and I managed with no problems, but it was a challenge. (That part of the hike was 2.5 miles in one way, with a 2000 ft elevation gain. As always, “down” was my favorite part.) Ha.

The "easy" trail.

The “easy” trail.

We took some fun pictures along the way and had a great time. We’d opted to do this in the morning before lunch, because lunch at the bottom is a great reward, in and of itself, and the risk of storms is that much greater in the afternoon.

Claire and JoAnn Labor Day 2015

The Second Bridge

The Second Bridge

We hiked for about 3 hours, and as predicted, lunch tasted fantastic after we’d survived the adventure. 😀

Food always tastes better outside. True story.

After lunch, we headed home. We opted to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park on the way and exchange Claire’s paper pass for a plastic one. This year, 4th Graders and their families get a FREE National Park Pass. (We even used the paper version at Fish Creek Falls to pay the day-fee of $5. National Park Passes were accepted at this location and after a bit of educational convincing, the park ranger let us use it. It was the first pass, of what I’m sure are MANY, he’d ever seen, so he was skeptical but willing to play along.) We had no problems whatsoever at the gate at Rocky Mountain. They were ready for us and gave us all the info. (If you have a 4th Grader, don’t pass up this deal! It’s fantastic.)

Claire's FREE Park Pass is good for a whole year, thru August 2016!

Claire’s FREE Park Pass is good for a whole year, thru August 2016!

The weather was some of the best we've ever seen up there! See the elk? (Click photo to see more detail.)

The weather was some of the best we’ve ever seen up there! See the elk? (Click photo to see more detail.)

We even saw a bear as we got closer to town! I didn’t get a picture, because I was too busy yelling, “BEAR! Look, a BEAR!” to the other occupants in the car. This black bear was playing by the stream on the side of the road in one of the towns on the way home. I’m so glad we all got to see it!

After dinner at a local place we love, we headed home. It was a great adventure, and just right. This way, we got to escape for a bit and then still have what will seem like a full weekend at home.

Perfection!