Summer Sundays at the Lake

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Ever since we moved into this neighborhood more than a year ago, I’ve wanted to become “lake people”. We live about five minutes from the beautiful Standley Lake, and while you can’t swim in the lake, you can rent kayaks and canoes and paddleboards and boats and take them out. We love to visit the lake as often as we can — we even had Lotte’s first birthday cake there — but we had yet to rent anything and take it out.

Until yesterday.

It was glorious weather here on Sunday — not too hot, just windy enough and sunny — so we tested our luck and parked over near the dog park (it’s free there, otherwise you have to pay $7 to get your car all the way down to the lake area, which would be totally worth it if you were bringing your own gear) and walked through the eagle sanctuary area (we even saw a baby bald eagle!) down to the lake. We chatted with the rangers for a bit before deciding to try out a two-person kayak. Getting a life jacket that would fit Lotte was essential, and the infant one she ended up with was probably a bit small for her (hence the crying and screaming while she was wearing it :/), but it did the job.

We had the best time on the water! (Well, Chris and I did, at least. Lotte wasn’t so happy sitting on my lap, and I attribute it all to the life jacket, because otherwise being out there doing something new, seeing the water and trees and people and ducks, it was all something I think she would have loved!) Anyway, while we didn’t stay out for the full hour we had the kayak ($10 for one hour … what a bargain!), it was still fun to give it a try and I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back. Hey, the more Lotte is in that life jacket the more she’ll have to get used to it … right?!

Happy Monday, friends!

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^^ That’s a baby bald eagle in that tree on the right! We verified with a park ranger … how cool is that?!

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^^ Hahahah! Poor little Lotte :/ You can tell from this pic she wasn’t quite the happiest camper!

South Park, Fairplay & Twin Lakes … Oh My!

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Happy Monday, friends, and happy almost July 4th! Chris & Lotte & I spent this past weekend in Fairplay, Colorado, so that we could hike the Interlaken trail around the Twin Lakes Reservoir (all of which is located along part of The Colorado Trail). We stayed at A Riverside Inn, which was about an hour away from the trail, but the hotel was located in the cute little town of Fairplay, which also happens to be part of the larger area known as South Park. South Park is an old mining town that has been wonderfully preserved, and although we didn’t get to go into the South Park City Museum (which is the coolest open air museum that you can glance at from the outside), we did walk around the town a bit on Sunday before we left.

This trip was full of good food, beautiful views and a baby who stole everyone’s hearts. (You know I had to sneak that in there.) Seriously though, Lotte was great, even if it was just a little difficult to get her to fall asleep in the hotel room both Friday and Saturday nights. (Sorry, nearby room guests :/)

Anyway, here’s a bit of what we saw …

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^^ We rolled into town around 4 p.m. on Friday and stopped off at Prather’s Market to pick up some goodies for our hike the following day, then had dinner at South Park Brewing, both of which were within walking distance of our hotel. The brewery was really nice — pretty large inside and definitely catering to family and kids, as you can tell from this table of toys that Lotte was quite taken with! The menu was Mexican, which you know I could get on board with (my tofu burrito was delish!), and although the prices were maybe a tad on the high side, we had a really good time here.

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^^ See what I mean … yum!

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^^ The next day we packed up and hit the road. I ended up picking Fairplay as our home base for a couple different reasons. For starters, it was only about an hour from our home, so essentially halfway between our house and the hike. I also thought Fairplay/South Park looked interesting to check out, the price was on the cheaper side of what was available in the area and they offered breakfast, a plus since we were trying to leave early Saturday for the hike. To get from Fairplay to the hike (located in Leadville) we drove through Buena Vista, which was another really cute looking town that was only about 20 minutes from the hike. This is probably a place we’ll check out at some point, but for the purposes of this trip, I still say Fairplay was the right place to stay.

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^^ Gettin’ hike ready!

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^^ So here’s the part where I admit that we tacked on an additional two miles (grrrr) to our already 5-mile long hike when we started off in the wrong direction :/ It was so frustrating, because we had even specifically asked another woman who was starting off the hike at the same time as us. She said yes, this was the Twin Lakes Trail, but failed to mention that you needed to veer off to the right at a small stake in the ground in order to get on it. Otherwise you would be stuck on an alternate, albeit beautiful, trail that was mostly traversed by mountain bikers. Oh friends … you live and you learn, right.

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^^ Heading off on the wrong trail.

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^^ Still the wrong trail.

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^^ Wrong way guys, turn back!

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^^ Oooohh … pretty. But still, the wrong trail. We got here when Chris (thankfully!) checked the map and saw we were headed the wrong way. I was NOT a happy camper, to put it lightly.

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^^ THIS SIGN! We failed to see THIS SIGN! Look for it, friends!

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^^ Once we were finally on the right trail, though, it made all the difference.

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^^ As you near the old 1800s Interlaken Hotel (which is approximately 2.5 miles into the hike and where we would be turning back around), you pass through a gorgeous aspen grove and the hike gets thick with lush trees and a small river. It’s really lovely.

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^^ Unfortunately my photos of the resort came out blurry (bright sun made it very hard to see what I was actually taking pictures of this day), but you can read all about it here. There are about a dozen old buildings on the property, most with signs to explain what they are. We sat on the porch of one of the buildings and had our lunch, taking in the view of the lake (and Mt. Elbert — the highest peak in Colorado!) in the background.

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^^ So dark, but otherwise I love this photo!

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^^ See, I was on the trip, too!

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^^ Thank you to the lovely couple who offered to take our photo for us. And see that first peak pretty much directly above my head. That’s Mt. Elbert 😉

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^^ You could climb to the top of a small observatory in one of the old buildings, which was somewhat claustrophobic, but still fun!

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^^ Heading back Lotte fell asleep for a bit in Chris’ arms. Simply the best ❤

And so I come to the end of my hiking photos, friends. All Trails calls this hike moderate, and while there were some ups and downs and it certainly is on the longer side, when compared with the easy (All Trails called it easy … I do NOT!) St. Mary’s Glacier hike we did on Thursday, this was a piece of cake! (Even considering the extra two miles we tacked on!) So put it on your bucket list, friends, because it’s a Colorado site worth seeing!

Anyway, we ended up back in Fairplay probably around 3:30ish, and we all took short naps and showered, then headed back out for dinner. We decided to check out Mason’s High Country BBQ this time (I had checked ahead of time and they did have a veggie sandwich option), and we were not disappointed! This tiny little hole in the wall was so fun and the food was so tasty, it was a highlight in Fairplay, for sure.

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^^ My veggie sandwich, which was onion, tomato, pepper and cole slaw, with a side of potato salad. Yum!

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^^ And Chris’ double-meat concoction, which he says was also delish. 

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^^ As I mentioned earlier, the next morning we got to check out South Park a little bit. The town can be walked in about 15 minutes, but the shops are so cute and eclectic (although most were closed early Sunday when we took our stroll), so it’s definitely worth checking out.

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^^ Breakfast on Sunday was at the Java Moose, where the breakfast sandwiches and Lattes were divine.

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^^ The South Park City sign is the entrance to the open air South Park Museum I mentioned earlier. It didn’t open until 10 a.m. and was $20 per person, so we didn’t actually go in (although I read rave reviews), but even seeing it from the outside was cool.

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^^ Chris and I were debating whether or not the people who actually live in South Park love or hate the fact that a crass tv show has the same name. (Of course the portrayal of South Park in the show is nothing like the actual South Park in real life.) I think the answer is a little bit of both. And of course it’s only natural to try to capitalize on the fame somewhat … why not?!

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^^ I sure do love this happy traveler.

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And that was the end of our trip, my friends. I hope you guys are all having a great holiday so far and have fun things planned for the 4th. Until next time … bis bald!

 

Thursdays at St. Mary’s Glacier

IMG_2846Happy holiday weekend Friday, friends! I hope everyone is either already enjoying the long weekend, or has super fun plans to start doing so immediately.

Over in our neck of the woods, Chris is starting a new job next week, so he has a couple of days off and we have lots of fun stuff planned, starting with the hike we took to St. Mary’s Glacier yesterday. Mind you, the trail is only 1.4 miles (that’s to the lake and back, but you can continue the hike past the lake, which we did for a bit), and it’s labeled as easy on All Trails … but I call shenanigans! Listen, I’m no ninny when it comes to hikes, and we’ve done our fair share since we’ve moved to Colorado, but this was not easy. The altitude (you’re at 10,848 feet at the base of the glacier) probably has something to do with it, but the steady incline and slippery rocks don’t help, either. Now is it worth it? Spectacularly yes! The views are amazing and if your breath isn’t already taken away by your hike to reach it (which it likely will be), the lake and glacier will certainly do the trick. We had thrown Lotte in the Ergo and brought her with us, of course, but there were definitely times, especially on the descent, when I questioned how safe the whole thing actually was with a baby.

Chris, of course, felt perfectly safe the entire time. What can I say, it’s my momness kicking in.

Anyway, if you can push on through the altitude and rocky climb (if I can, you can!), here’s some of what you’ll be blessed with:

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^^ She looks so excited for another adventure, doesn’t she 😉

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^^ I mean look at that sky?! Have you ever seen anything so blue and clear?

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^^ After about 10 minutes of trying for a family photo with the self timer on my actual camera, we gave up and settled for this one with my iPhone. Not a bad runner up!

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^^ Lotte’s hat in this picture … it makes me so happy!

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^^ Dangerous indeed. In fact, the whole time we were taking a short rest and snack break at the lake before heading back, a team of about five or six rescue workers were trying to figure out how to get a snowboarder down who had injured himself up on the glacier. Yes, snowboarding is allowed on the glacier, but of course it’s entirely dangerous. Hence the injury.

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^^ So excited to get out of the Ergo, onto the ground and into some snacks!

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^^ See those two tiny little snowboarder flecks in the white snow and ice? Crazy!

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^^ After the hike — which probably took us about two hours all told, including our break — we stopped off in Idaho Springs on the way back for lunch at Tommyknocker Brewery. By this time Lotte had only taken about 30 minutes of a nap all day, and she had barely had anything to eat (snack was much less exciting than staring at everything going on around her at the lake … between that and trying to eat dirt, who had time for snack?!). Still, you couldn’t tell from her sweet little ‘tude. She’s simply the best.

And that was our Thursday, friends. Our Fourth of July weekend is off to a smashing start. We’re off tomorrow to stay in Fairplay Colorado so we’ll be close to our hike at Twin Lakes on Saturday. I hope my legs feel rested by then!

Until then … bis bald, friends!

An Adventure in Camping With a 10-Month-Old

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Well friends, we did it — Lotte’s first camping trip! And we survived! (Mostly.)

This weekend we packed up our Forester (which seems to be getting smaller and smaller on us, theses days!) and joined my cousin and her family and some of their friends out near Boreas Pass Road at Selkirk Campground for some straight-up tent camping with our 10-month-old.

I can hear you now saying we’re crazy, and maybe a small part of us is, but we just had to give it a try! We settled on one night — Saturday — to ease ourselves into it, and while Chris gave the overall status of the trip a 60% grade (more on why later), I’d say it was more like a 75%. Don’t get me wrong — the daytime was amazing, an A+! The night, however … well that was another story.

Here’s a couple things I learned from camping for the first time with my 10-month-old:

  1. One night is not enough for everything you have to do to get prepped for camping. With all the food and gear and baby gadgets we had to get together, I felt like we should be leaving for a month, not 24 hours. Still, I think having just the one night ended up working out okay since, as I mentioned above, things didn’t go so well at night. However, if/when we camp again, I think we’ll shoot for at least a 2-night minimum.
  2. Prepare for all contingencies. Anyone who has gone camping will already know this, but when you have a baby with you, put that on your list three times. I had checked the weather before we left and saw it was meant to dip down to the lower 40s at night, so we were ready, but it actually ended up dipping to the lower 30s (?!?!?! That’s mountain life for ya!), so I was extra happy we were prepared.
  3. Don’t think you’ll sleep. At all. Get in all the rest and relaxation in the days leading up to your camping trip that you can, because camping with your baby will not be relaxing. As I mentioned already, our night wasn’t so great. Lotte was up about every two hours, and while she mostly went back down relatively easily, still, she was up crying every. two. hours. So no sleep was had by anyone (including the family in the tent closest to us … sorrrryyyyy!). I don’t think she was cold, necessarily, since her nighttime attire included a long-sleeved onesie, socks, fleece pajamas, her winter sleep sack, socks on her hands, her winter hat and a fleece blanket (plus eventually we brought her over to our mattress to sleep with us, so she had our blanket on top of her, too). I think it was just the overall weirdness of being outside and in a tent that she just couldn’t get used to. Whatever it was, she wasn’t having it!
  4. Be down for anything. For as frustrating as our night was, the day was gorgeous and filled with fun. We hiked and watched the sunset and made smores and they had hammocks and there was a beautiful stream, so it was very fun. The one thing I hadn’t really thought about, though, was that at this crawling age, we couldn’t really put Lotte down anywhere (dirt, and anything else, goes right in the mouth these days), which meant Chris or myself was holding her all day long. Again this was fine, especially for one night, but it definitely wasn’t something we thought of ahead of time.

Anyway, after unpacking when we arrived, here’s what we actually got to see and do. It was pretty spectacular …

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^^ I am never not taking glorious mountain photos from the car window when we drive places around here!

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^^ My cousin’s daughter is one year almost to the day older than Lotte, and they are just the cutest together!

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^^ The relaxin’ in a camp chair in the sun part of camping? Lotte had that part nailed 😉

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^^ Look at these glorious views! I would definitely recommend this area for camping, just be sure to bring your rugged, all-terrain vehicle because some of the roads were quite bumpy to navigate.

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^^ There’s my man, settin’ us up for the night. We actually don’t have any camping gear ourselves besides one cooler … is that crazy? We borrowed this stuff from our camping-pro friends, though, and it was pretty amazing.

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^^ This. Little. Face. All dirty and scratched up 😉

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^^ Dubious tent face :/ A sign of things to come!

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^^ These two ❤

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^^ When Lotte wouldn’t sleep, we went for a walk with her, which at least meant we were able to catch this glorious sunset … so thanks for that, Lotte!

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^^ We woke up to 34 degree temps, and I needed to breastfeed Lotte, which I was not about to do in that frigid weather. So we started up the car, put the heat on and Lotte and I hung out there for a little bit in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, parenthood 😉

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^^ Maxin’ and relaxin’ while we all pack up.

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^^ My cousin with Lotte. We were so thankful for the invite and had so much fun tagging along the trip … thanks Court!

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^^ We made a few pitstops on the way home to take in the views, too.

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And that was our camping in a nutshell! Super gorgeous, very fun and entirely exhausting 😉 And would I do it all over again? You bet I would!

I hope everyone has a fun Fourth of July plans. We’ll be heading out of town to the Twin Lakes area to check it out. Until next time, bis bald!

Sunday Hikes at Clear Creek Trail

Happy Monday, friends! Our weekend was filled with lots of house stuff (we haven’t been home together in four weekends … it’s amazing how things pile up), tons of Lotte time and a bit of finalizing stuff for our basement, which should, hopefully, be done by the time my sister and stepdad arrive on Tuesday – finally.

Amidst the mayhem, though, we managed to fit in a little hike at Clear Creek Trail near Golden. The Arvada hike entrance is only about 10 minutes from our home, and the loop that we took was totally flat and only about 2.5 miles roundtrip. (Although apparently this trail loops through many different towns and is more than 20 miles, all told.)

It was a really fun little trail to do on a Sunday afternoon, perfect for families. We passed tons of gorgeous lakes, two parks and a lot of picnic areas. Although we did see THREE snakes! If you’re not a snake person — which I am NOT — I might recommend sticking to the paved path above the river.

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^^ I told Chris that this meant the trail we were on was closed and that we needed to go up to the paved part (you could pick between the rocky area near the river, where we were, and a paved path that you would share with cyclers), but he swore it was for the area below.

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^^ As it turned out, I was right. Naturally 😉

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^^ This girl loves a good hike, all snuggled up against dad.

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I hope you guys all had a wonderful weekend. Bis bald!

Estes Park, Colorado — The Place Where Birthday Dreams Come True

I will provide you with fair warning my friends — I’m about to overload you with baby and beautiful scenery photos. If that happens to be the kind of thing you enjoy (ahem, who doesn’t?!), then please keep reading.

As I mentioned yesterday, this past weekend was my birthday, and Chris planned a weekend getaway to Estes Park for our little fam. We stayed at this Airbnb, which was two blocks from the Lake Estes walking path, about a four-minute drive from our hike at Gem Lake on Saturday and an easy walk into town, too. There was a cute little kitchenette which was perfect for our beer-stocking, baby food-making needs, and they had games and puzzles and the perfect Wi-Fi password. (It had something to do with going outside, but Chris says I shouldn’t give the actual password … fair enough.)

We had take-out from Thai Kitchen  on Friday night (delish), made a lunch to bring with us on our hike Saturday and had Mexican for dinner Saturday night at Ed’s Cantina & Grill.  The food was fantastic, and the town — which we walked through on Saturday evening after our hike — was really cute, but really what you come to Estes Park for are the awe-inspiring views. We had planned to do two hikes on Saturday, but the Gem Lake trail ended up taking us about four hours total, because we took the long way back and it had snowed the day before, so it was a bit icy in patches, which meant we went super slow with the little one in tow. Chris was carrying her in the Ergo, so I was really glad that he rented spikes for our shoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop, which we had never used before but which I thoroughly believe I’ll be using for every hike from here on out … they are so helpful!

Anyway, the Gem Lake hike was definitely difficult in parts (check out the All Trails info on it here), but it was absolutely worth it.

Here’s a bit from our weekend getaway ….

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^^ A bit blurry, but OMG I love this pic 😉

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^^ A fridge full of Michelob Ultra … that’s my kind of birthday celebration!

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^^ Lotte was very excited to help dad set out the puzzle pieces for a puzzle that we never actually did. Turns out when your 8-month-old goes to bed at 7 p.m. and you’re sharing the same room, there’s not much you can do but watch Parks & Rec repeats on your iPad in the dark, which, as anyone who knows me at all will know, was totally fine by me.

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^^ This is definitely a photo of some of my favorite things, but I actually took a picture of it because last year I was pregnant with Lotte and couldn’t have beer or soft cheeses. My how things change in 12 months.

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^^ Traveling with a baby is, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of fun, but there is something to be said about having to be on baby’s schedule. It actually turned out that it was better we had to wait for Lotte to wake up from her morning nap before heading out, because it warmed up nicely before we hit the trail.

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^^ Chris is frequently annoyed with my trail mix eating habits, which include picking out all of the M&Ms and leaving pretty much everything else behind. This time he decided to hedge his bets and set up a make-your-own-trail-mix bar, that way I could put in as many M&Ms (and as few peanuts, yuck!) as I wanted!

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^^ Hiking shoe spikes! So dorky … and so worth it!

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^^ And so the trail begins! It was about 3.3 miles round-trip, but we took the Twin Owls loop back, which added an extra 1/2 mile or so.

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^^ These two 😉 My loves.

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^^ Rocky Mountain National Park usually costs $20 for a day pass to enter, but this trail technically takes you through sections of the park … for free!

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^^ We seriously could not get enough of these views!

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^^ The higher we got, the snowier it got. Thank goodness we had our hiking shoe spikes! That was $16 well spent.

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^^ Just before you hit Gem Lake you’re blessed with this gorgeous view. I would have been happy with just this alone, but then …

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^^ You get to the lake, and it’s simply spectacular.

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^^ These icicles are gorgeous, but I really love the blurry Chris & Lotte in the background.

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^^ We hiked around a bit and ate our sandwiches on the other side of the lake, then started to make our way down. I swear it had been a bit cloudy and chilly on our hike up, but as soon as we reached the lake the clouds cleared and the sun was shining. It was stunning.

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^^ This little muffin even fell asleep on the way back down – why not, all comfy, cozy snuggled on dad!?

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^^ Checking out the Twin Owls View Trail on the way back was definitely worth the extra .5 miles!

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After our hike we took a brief rest back at our Airbnb before heading out on the walk into town. The River Walk is super cute, and you pass by a bunch of fun shops and restaurants to browse.

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^^ This sign on our walk had me cracking up. I mean I guess aggressive elk isn’t something to laugh about, but it certainly seemed funny to me!

_DSC7606On Sunday — my actual birthday 😉 — we planned to get up and get breakfast in town, then check out the downtown area a bit more, but Lotte had other ideas. Namely, she was super grumpy and just wanted to go home, which was fair enough because we’ve kept her pretty busy over these past couple weeks. We did manage to stop by the Estes Park sign on our way out and snap a photo though:

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Thanks for an amazing time, Estes Park, and thank you for being so close to our home. We will definitely be back.

Bis bald, friends!

Birthday Celebrations in the Mountains

Hi friends,

Well we certainly got lucky with the weather this weekend. I turned 34 yesterday (Yikes? Or not? I haven’t really decided yet … ), and we spent the weekend in Estes Park to celebrate. Despite the fact that it’s only a little over an hour away, we had yet to really explore Estes Park and everything it has to offer, but now that we have I’m sure we’ll be back. The hikes are glorious, the town is adorable, and it’s right next to Rocky Mountain National Park, as well, so there’s no end to the number of outdoor things you can do. I’ll need a day or two to download my photos and write up a post, but I wanted to share the above pic we took yesterday on our way home. This was my first birthday as a mom, and my first birthday without my own mom. So many feelings. But having my own little family with me to celebrate was certainly lovely, and Chris did such a good job making me feel special. I’m very lucky, that I know.

Happy April, friends – I hope your spring started with some sunshine.