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!

A Girls’ Week Bonanza

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Chris has been in Australia this past week for his brother’s wedding, so to keep us company (and help me out!), my darling friend Lisa flew in from D.C. to have a girls’ week with myself and Lotte.

We. Had. So. Much. Fun.

Not only did she help me immensely by being here, but she also surprised me with an early birthday celebration — complete with strawberry shortcake, carrot cake cupcakes, presents and adorable decorations (she made a shirt for Lotte!) — since we were together.

One of my highest hopes in life for Lotte is that she finds friends like Lisa. They are invaluable.

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^^ Among the many reasons that I love when Lisa comes to visit are the millions of photos that she takes of Lotte and of Lotte & me. Since I am usually the one behind the camera in our everyday life, it’s nice to have these memories.

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^^ I am so glad Lisa was here to watch the Oscars with me, wine glass in hand.

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^^ Lisa did most of the cooking while she was here (because again, she’s a doll), but I did make this homemade hummus dip for us, which is something I used to make back when we lived in NYC. Sigh. Memories.

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^^ Shirt 1 of 2 Lisa made for Lotte. I cannot. And she even made a big-girl version for me.

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^^ Who doesn’t LOVE an early birthday celebration?! No one decorates or celebrates like Lisa. No one.

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^^ This shirt. Look for it again on my actual birthday, because I cannot WAIT for Lotte to wear it then!

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^^ Lisa made this Penne Alla Betsy dish from Ree Drummond as part of my birthday celebration. I highly recommend trying it. 

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^^ We checked out Majestic View Park (which also has a nature center) while Lisa was here, which is something I’ve been meaning to do. I’m so glad we did, because although it was the windiest day ever, it was still beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back.

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^^ We also took a walk over near the eagle habitat side of Standley Lake which, if you’ll recall, I had visited last year when my stepdad was in town and I was still pregnant.

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^^ After Lisa left on Saturday I took Lotte to the Arvada Library for Family Time, and we were the only ones there! We stayed for Baby Time, too, and there was only one other baby. (He didn’t enjoy Baby Time as much as Lotte did, I don’t think :/) Anyway, it was only so-so. There is a library much closer that has the same types of activities, but we’ve always missed them because of Lotte’s naps. I’m hoping we’ll be able to try out a Baby or Family Time at the Standley Lake Library some day soon.

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^^ All alone … and loving it!

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^^ Lisa sent me this compilation of Lotte photos after she left. Seriously. She’s the best ever. I can’t say it enough.

And that was our little girls’ week in a nutshell, friends. The week after this one Lotte and I are jetting off to the east coast (my first flight solo with the babe … yikes!) for some events. I’m looking forward to it, but it’ll be nice to have Chris home and to have our little family together for a couple days, as well.

Bis bald, friends!

A Weekend Getaway in Breckenridge With Friends

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Hey friends,

Happy Monday! Things are in full swing over at the Connor house today! Our new nanny who was supposed to start today never showed up (grrr), but our basement remodel has begun (I’m so excited!) and it’s my grandmother and her twin’s 95th birthday, so we’ll be facetiming with them later to send some love.

Meanwhile, we spent the weekend in Breckenridge with my old college roommate, her husband and their one year old, plus my friend’s mom, who was a little angel and watched the babes for us while we snowboarded/skied on Sunday. How lovely is that?

And what a gorgeous day we had! It honestly was the perfect weather for a day out on the slopes. Here’s our weekend in photos, friends.

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^^ We stopped at Breckenridge Brewery on our way into town for lunch and Lotte was, as usual, perfect 😉

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^^ My friend found the place we stayed at, so I can’t take any credit for that, but it was perfect — right on Main St. and about a 10 min walk to a gear rental place/one of the lifts. I would highly recommend The Loft at Ruby Jane for a group of friends wanting a weekend in Breck.

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^^ These two together are just too cute for words.

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^^ See what I mean?!

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^^ I didn’t have the best day snowboarding (aka I fell A LOT), but it was still super fun and so nice to be outside in such beautiful weather. And I did more runs than I’ve ever done in my life so, you know, go me 😉

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^^ I love this picture. I wanted a photo of all four of us at the top of the mountain so badly, but I could not stand backwards on my board if someone paid me to, so I ended up holding on to Ryan for dear life, while Chris could barely get himself in the shot. Oh well, we tried!

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^^ And this one of Ryan and Carla would have been so gorgeous … if Chris weren’t sitting right smack in the middle of it, totally oblivious 😉 I guess the lesson is, snowboard on the mountain — don’t try to take perfect pictures.

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^^ Of course I kept trying anyway.

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^^ Our loft was right above this store right on the adorable Main Street in town.

We’re off to Steamboat next weekend to hang with some family that’s in town, too. I’m glad we’re making it to the mountains a bit this season, even with our little baby. It’s super fun bringing her places, and she really is a good traveler. Shout out to you, little Lotte, for being so totally awesome.

Bis bald, friends!

Pennsylvania, Brooklyn & NYC — A Tale of a 5-day Trip

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^^ Gussied up in our fanciest for a very pretty (if somewhat cold!) Central Park wedding.

Hi friends,

Well we just returned from a super quick and very fun trip over to the east coast. We headed out last Friday, arriving in Pennsylvania around 10:30 p.m. for a second Christmas with my dad and stepmom, sisters and their husbands and Rory and Jude. Nan and Aussie Poppa came, too, which made the trip a super lot more fun.

Second Chrissy was only one of our objectives with this trip — we also rented a car and drove to Brooklyn on Monday, where we stayed with a friend of mine in her gorgeous brownstone and attended a wedding in Central Park on Tuesday and the reception at the Wythe Hotel.

This was Lotte’s second trip out to the east coast — a trip that followed quickly behind her trip out the mountains at the end of last year — and she was nothing but a wonderful pumpkin full of smiles the whole time.

Something tells me we got super lucky with this kid of ours.

Anyway, here’s what we got up to, in photos 😉

01_flyingout^^ Super pumped for her second trip out east!

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^^ These two together … it seriously always warms my heart.

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^^ My family has a little tradition of doing a taste-testing competition for one holiday (usually it’s Thanksgiving), and although we’d already done wine in the past, we decided why not do it again 😉 After what was meant to be a tie-breaker using beer between the three wine-tasting winners (my dad and both my brothers-in-law), both of my brothers-in-law won the beer round. This was not in the least surprising 😉

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^^ Steph and I chipped in to get Rory an actual excavator toy that he can ride, and I think it’s safe to say he liked it. (Thanks Uncle Brian for setting it up!)

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^^ The chef — aka my brother-in-law — hard at work.

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^^ My delicious dinner plate. These shrimp with Kev’s homemade barbecue sauce were to die for.

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^^ At the sports bar the next day with the fam!

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^^ A poopy diaper explosion meant Lotte was taking photos with her cousins in pjs instead of her super cute daytime outfit. Oh well, still cute, though!

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^^ Yup. Parenting is tiring.

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^^ Sleeping on the ride from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn.

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^^ The gorgeous setting for Tuesday’s wedding in Central Park.

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^^ Almost four years ago, exactly, Chris and I stood under those very same arches and sat on those very same steps, taking photos of our own after we had just been married 😉

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^^ Meanwhile, my friend Carla manned the fort back in Brooklyn with both of our babies … and her dog Simon helped.

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^^ After a short hiatus, the reception took place at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, which was nice because I had never been before. The views of Manhattan were spectacular, and the food was super delish. All-in-all, it was a very fun wedding.

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^^ At one point during the night Carla sent me this picture, which I seriously adore. She even said Lotte went down super easy that night, which may have been because of …

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^^ This amazing sleepsuit! Have you heard of this?! Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is, as promised, magic! Lotte simply loves it, and although I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to be using it anymore since she can roll over, for now I’m just grateful it’s helped get her to sleep after the disruption of her routine over the past couple weeks. Thanks Carla, for letting Lotte borrow Fiona’s!

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^^ Fiona and Lotte the morning before we left to fly back to Denver. It is my sincere hope that these two become good, lifelong friends. At least I know Carla and I will do everything in our power to help make that happen.

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^^ Home. There’s no place like it.

And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends. We’ve got a pretty busy couple first months coming up, with trips planned and visitors coming out. But busy is how we like to be 😉

Until next time – bis bald!

New Year’s Eve 2016

fullsizerender^^ 2017 is looking infinitely better than 2016 already 😉

Since my wonderful in-laws were still in town for New Year’s Eve (which just happens to also be the anniversary of when Chris and I met, got engaged and got married … it’s kind of a special day for us!), Chris and I took advantage of their babysitting abilities and had a couple mini dates. We headed back to the Arvada Tavern the night before New Year’s Eve (I blogged about our first date at the Arvada Tavern here) with Chris’s two sisters, who treated us to a delicious dinner and drinks. Then on New Year’s Eve we cashed in on my stepmom’s Christmas present to us from last year and took a sushi-making making at Sur La Table (amazingly fun!) and met up with Kate and Sarah for cocktails at Corridor 44 in Larimer Square in Denver.

Then, after trying to have dinner at the new restaurant — The Butchery — in Arvada and finding out the wait was going to be hours, we ended up at Olive Garden instead! And you know what … we certainly didn’t regret it.

Some photos from our New Year’s Eve Eve and New Year’s Eve itself. Hope you guys had an amazing time, as well!

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^^ Cocktails and live jazz music in the upstairs section of the Arvada Tavern before dinner.

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^^ Being an amazing husband, Chris got me some anniversary presents and I got him nothing. Sorry dear — I do love you, though!

img_1993img_1997img_1999-1img_2002-1img_2003img_2009img_2014img_2019img_2068^^ Celebrating a new year with this little bundle … and things are certainly looking peachy 😉

Back in the Borough: Hot Child in the City

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^^ Oh NYC, how I’ve missed you.

Well friends, two amazing things happened on the very first day of our trip out east — Lotte met my grandmother and she visited NYC.

Lots of love for those two things right there.

For starters, I have to give props to our little four-month old for being quite the flying champ. Sure she had her moments, but for the most part she was pretty great. She was totally fascinated in the airport and held her own all the way until the very end when she got a little sleepy, but once we boarded (a half hour late, mind you) and I could breastfeed her, she settled right down.

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^^ Look at that face! Like, ” what in the heck is going on around me?!”

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^^ Since we had a small delay we stopped at Root Down to grab some food. Lotte was just a little bit popular there, as you might have guessed 😉

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^^ Landed!

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^^ Lest you think my child is always happy, here’s a bit of a meltdown pic for ya, as well.

After landing around 11 p.m. and getting back to Newburgh around 1 a.m., we had a super early wake-up call to try to leave the house by 8 a.m. the next day to head into the city.

Our departure time ended up being closer to 8:30, which I still say is pretty awesome, all things considered.

We were only in the city for a couple of hours total, but we sure did make the most of it. Chris renewed his passport. Steph and Lotte and I met up with my friend Carla and her 9-month-old Fiona for brunch at The Wheeltapper Pub inside the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel. We even took the babes through a bit of a Grand Central tour and on to Bryant Park so that Steph could take some potential Christmas card photos for us.

Here’s our time in the city in photos.

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^^ Fiona was fascinated with Lotte’s hair for some reason, which made for some pretty funny photos. Love these two ladies, and I’m so thrilled Carla and I get to raise our babies together, even if we do live half-way across the country from each other.

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^^ Some Aunt Stephie cuddles. (Aunt Stephie also dresses Lotte every single time she’s with her, in case you were wondering … )

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^^ The Grand Central detour.

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^^ Hubbub all around them, and yet these two babes remained as calm as ever. True city babies, if you ask me 😉

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^^ Bryant Park at the holidays — my absolute favorite place on earth. I cannot believe I got to actually share it with my own daughter this year.

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img_9314^^ Behind the scenes of our baby photo shoot 😉 Don’t worry – Chris was holding on very tight!

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^^ My child has perfected her side eye.

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^^ Ah the stroller and steps — thanks hubs, for always taking care of the transport!

img_9390^^ Back to the car, completely unfazed. Like I said – a little city lady.

And that, my dear friends, was our fast and furious introduction of Lotte to the city we love so dearly. Of course there are 10,001 other things I want to do in the city with her, but I have no doubt we’ll be back plenty. In fact, we’re planning another potential trip in January with Chris’s parents while they’re in the states for Christmas, so I’ll start dreaming of that for now.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the rest of our trip. For now … bis bald, friends.

Another Birthday Celebration in the Books, This Time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

thumb__dsc5111_1024^^ Have you ever seen a happier dog? Can you blame him — look at that view!

Well my friends, we made it back from our first road trip with the Little, and we’re all in tact and, what’s more, we all had an amazing time. Chris’s birthday was this past Saturday, so we decided to check out a new place — Steamboat Springs. At only a little over three hours away, it was the perfect place to get our feet wet when it comes to traveling with a baby, and Lotte obliged us by being pretty much amazing the entire time.

What can I say — she has travel in her blood 😉

For starters, we stayed at Nordic Lodge which, while totally bare essentials when it comes to amenities, was the perfect location, especially when you have a baby who needs feeding  and/or a good nap every couple hours and you prefer to do that at a home base. They had a Pack ‘n Play that we were able to use for our trip, which meant we could skip taking up room in the car with ours, and they were willing to upgrade us for free to a larger room to accommodate the Pack ‘n Play, although we opted to pay an extra $50 for the weekend and actually upgrade to a suite with a separate bedroom, that way Lotte could nap in peace and we didn’t have to tiptoe around her and whisper the whole time.

I gotta say — for newbies, I think we did well!

Here’s what we three got up to …

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^^ You know my child would have a onesie specifically dedicated to traveling, although I can’t take credit for buying this — it was all my sister!

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^^ Our first night in town we walked to Mahogany Ridge Brewery for dinner which, while a brewery, was in my opinion probably a little bit fancier than you should bring a baby (and a huge stroller!) to. So we really have to give props to Lotte for sleeping through our entire meal! Great job, kid! That certainly made us feel more comfortable taking you out for more restaurant visits throughout the weekend.

03fullsizerender^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early 😉

04fullsizerender_1^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!

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^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.

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^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening 😉

02_dsc5002^^ After presents we made our way to Fish Creek Falls, a pretty little hike that was short enough to do with our 3-month-old strapped to Chris’s chest and long enough to make us feel like we actually did something — plus it was so pretty! (Bring $5 for parking! I had read that this place gets really packed, but during the off-peak season at like 7:30 in the morning, it was pretty much us alone on the trails — we only ran into two other (very small) groups of people the whole time.)

03thumb__dsc5066_102404thumb__dsc5060_102405thumb__dsc5033_1024^^ The falls!

06thumb__dsc5064_102407thumb__dsc5082_1024^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!

08fullsizerender_7^^ Again, slept like a champ throughout the whole thing! We made sure to rug her up so she was nice and warm, all cozy-like against dad’s chest for the hike.

09fullsizerender_10^^ After the hike we had a seriously delicious breakfast at Creekside Cafe & Grill, which just happens to literally be almost in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed. Score! The back porch was closed for the season, but it was such a glorious day we could easily have eaten outside and been happy. Oh well — next time! 

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11fullsizerender_12^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!

12fullsizerender_13^^ Under the table and dreaming 😉

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15fullsizerender_16^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!

16fullsizerender_8^^ After breakfast we went for a little walk in town to do some shopping and check out the fall colors. Although some things were unfortunately closed for the season (like back patios, for example, and the gondola), I would highly recommend traveling during this time. It was really quiet, which was nice, and the views were spectacular.

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^^ If you’re looking for a quintessential Western shop with cowboy boots, hats and the like, check out F.M. Light & Sons. It’s sort of an institution in town.

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21fullsizerender_20^^ Cowboy boots for days!

22fullsizerender_21^^ They had ’em for kids, too!

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24fullsizerender_23^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!

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28fullsizerender_27^^ Elevated Oil is a fun place to check out if you’re an olive oil connoisseur. You can even taste test the oils, which I thought would be totally gross but actually turned out to be delicious! 

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30fullsizerender_29^^ After shopping we hopped in the car for a (super) short ride to Storm Peak brewery, which was a really fun little brewery with tons of delicious beers on tap. Plus the weather was so nice they opened the garage doors, making it even more fun to hang.

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32fullsizerender_31^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …

33fullsizerender_32^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.

34img_7208^^ Silly pic No. 1 …

35fullsizerender_34^^ And 2 …

36img_7202^^ And 3 …

37img_7207^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.

38img_7116^^ We tried to hang at Butcherknife Brewing after Storm Peak, but Lotte had had enough, which was fair enough — you did well little one! So we headed back to the hotel so she could nap properly, and Chris and I ordered take-out from Rex’s American Grill & Bar. In all honesty, we only ordered from this place because I thought it delivered (it does not, I had to go pick our food up), but it turned out to be delicious, so it was a win!

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02img_7254^^ On Sunday morning we had to get rugged up again (which someone was not happy about at first), because we took a walk down by the Yampa River.

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07thumb__dsc5106_1024^^ On the way back to the lodge to grab the car we stopped in Off the Beaten Path, an amazing local bookstore that I highly recommend, if you’re into that kind of thing 😉

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09thumb__dsc5120_1024^^ We definitely wanted to check out the area near the mountain while we were there as well. It’s really cute with lots of little shops and restaurants, and while you can tell it would probably be crazy packed in winter, again, at this perfect time of year, it was pretty empty, which is always amazing for a ski town.

10thumb__dsc5109_1024^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.

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14thumb__dsc5128_1024^^ We grabbed lunch at Slopeside Grill before heading out and ate on their deck. Chris was a bit upset they didn’t have more local beers on tap, but their veggie burger was pretty awesome (although Mahogany’s was better, if you’re keeping score) and the views were unparalleled. 

15img_7264^^ Multitasking at its best.

16img_7267^^ Views on the drive home.

And that was it, my friends — our first road trip with Lotte is officially in the books, and it was a great one. Her next big trip will be in November when we head back east for Thanksgiving, and that one involves a plane. Yikes. Wish us luck!

Bis bald, friends!