This Beautiful, Magical Place They Call Yosemite …

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Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see — Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods — were closed because of the ongoing fire.

Guess that just means we’ll have to come back 😉

The views:

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^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.

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^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.

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^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo — that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job — she even sang to us at one point — and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
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^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.

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^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get 😉

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^^ Ergo napping baby!

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^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!

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^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves 😉 We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.

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^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!

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Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.

Bis bald, friends!

Amongst the Towering Sequoia Trees

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Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.

Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?

Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!

So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!

Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.

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^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉

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^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!

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^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …

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And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.

On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!

Final Summer Weekends in the Mountains

IMG_5804Hi friends,

I know, I know – there are still weeks left in summer, but to me, everything is already changing. The kids are back in school here. It’s chilly in the mornings. There’s lots of talk of snowboarding and skiing. I don’t know – it’s been a good summer, but I’m actually ready for the fall.

Late summer/early fall is one of my favorite times to visit the mountains, and we spent a lovely couple of days this past weekend in Beaver Creek and Frisco. We got a great deal to stay at the amazing Beaver Creek Lodge on Travelzoo, so we packed up the car and headed out. Even though we didn’t arrive until around 11 on Saturday, we packed it in. We checked out and had lunch (and gelato, of course) in the village, took a hike, Lotte & Chris swam in the pool (which they had all to themselves and Lotte was obsessed with!) and we went out to dinner. It was a really great day.

On Sunday we stopped at the Frisco Marina Park on our way home, took a little walk and grabbed lunch in town at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe. All-in-all it was a great way to spend a weekend. Hope you guys had a good one, too, and are gearing up for some fun Labor Day plans! We’ll be getting ready for our trip to California next week (San Francisco, Sequoia and Yosemite! We’re so excited!), so it’ll be all packing and cleaning for us here. (Although we may try to at least take in the local parade.)

Have a great week, friends!

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^^ My sister got Lotte this onesie before she was even born, and it’s by far the outfit she’s worn the most in her life!

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^^ The ice skating rink behind this statue was closed during the day, but they actually opened it up at night when we came back for dinner. If I weren’t almost six month preggers I would have been all over that!

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^^ Gelato — yum! We had sandwiches and dessert at Rimini Chocolate and Gelato in the town square, which were all delicious, if not very overpriced!

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^^ While I’m sure Chris would have enjoyed a hike with more oomph, the 5 Senses Trail was just perfect for me in my current state 😉 It was also really cute for kids, with signs along the way about our five senses and how they relate to the wilderness.

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^^ Always trying to get a good family shot with the self timer …

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^^ And always failing!

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^^ It’s mountain bike season, can you tell?!

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^^ There were at least two weddings going on this weekend that we saw. Can you imagine a prettier backdrop?

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^^ My little fam ❤

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^^ The pool!!!!! This was actually Lotte’s first pool experience, and since she loves, loves, loves bath time, we assumed she’d love the pool, too. We. Were. Right! She was obsessed! She kept kicking her legs and moving all around – it was the cutest thing. Swim lessons, here we come!

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^^ All gussied up for dinner at Dusty Boot. (My shrimp tacos were seriously delicious, and we even ordered Lotte her own little salmon from the kids’ menu. Sigh. She’s getting so big.)

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^^ Frisco Marina Park!

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^^ And finishing up our trip with lunch (breakfast, actually) at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe in the cute little town.

We sure do love you, mountains. Luckily my friend Lisa is coming to visit the first week in October and we’ve booked a quick night away in Vail, just the two of us, so I’ll back!

Bis bald, friends! And happy last week of August!

A Week of Firsts in New York

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Happy Tuesday, friends!

Lotte and I just flew back yesterday from our quick trip to New York, and as much as we missed dad (sorry Chris!), we had so much fun. Lotte had a ton of firsts (first trip to the beach! first first birthday party!), we celebrated my Uncle’s retirement, we met my sister and bro-in-law’s new puppy, and just pretty much rocked out on our trip together.

Don’t get me wrong … traveling alone with a little one is super hard. The flight? Hard. Doing everything yourself for five days straight? Hard. Ummm … major shout-out to all the single parents out there who do that every. single. day. I honestly am in awe of you.

On that note, I want to publicly thank the staff at Delta for being amazing on our flight out to New York. When the woman giving me bag tags for Lotte’s car seat and stroller saw that I was booked in a middle seat, she moved us so we had a full aisle all to ourselves.

What luxury!

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On the flight, the flight attendants were so super helpful and sweet. They held Lotte for me while I went to the bathroom, gave me free food from the menu you’re supposed to pay for, and were so supportive when I walked her up and down the aisle for about 20 minutes until she fell asleep (for about 40 minutes :/). All-in-all, it was the best flight I’ve had with her so far, and this was Lotte’s fifth time flying. Thanks again, Delta!

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s what we got up to!

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^^ Lotte loved Linus, my sister and Brian’s new pup. He was pretty good with her, too, even though you could tell they both were a little confused about who (and what) exactly the other was 😉

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^^ On Friday my sister took off from work (thanks sis!) and we headed to Rye Beach, which was Lotte’s first beach experience. I would definitely recommend this beach, especially to people with kids. It was clean and had plenty of bathrooms, the water was super calm and it’s near an amusement park as well, if that’s your thing. It does cost a bit to go ($15 to park and $10/person for admittance), but if you stay long enough it’s definitely worth it. At first Lotte wasn’t so sure about the water and kept holding her feet up when I tried to put them in, but she got the hang of it and really loved hanging out under the umbrella. Carla and Fiona met us there and we actually got a good couple of hours out of the babes. I was pretty impressed!

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^^ Saturday was my Uncle’s retirement party, which was a really fun time. They had it at Limoncello’s Restaurant, which always has good food, and we danced and ate cupcakes and had a merry, jolly good time!

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^^ Every single time my grandmother and Lotte get to see each other it’s pretty much my favorite time ever.

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^^ On Sunday Steph and Brian hosted a first birthday bash for little Lotte at their house! We had about 15 people and got lots of delicious food, and my sister ordered the most adorable cakes you’ve ever seen in your entire life. We had a swing and a little pool for the kiddies, and Lotte got some amazing presents. She’s one lucky gal, my daughter is!

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^^ I ordered the sandwiches from Hannaford’s, and we were pleasantly surprised with how tasty and sizable they were. Would definitely recommend!

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^^ My sister’s hydrangea bush is insane, so she brought some inside to decorate. How pretty are these?!

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^^ Lotte sure does love a good splash around!

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^^ These three ❤

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^^ Look at this cake! This was Lotte’s “smash” cake, which she was meant to just smash her hands into. At first she wasn’t so sure what to do with it, but once I gave her a taste of frosting with my finger, it was all I could do to stop her from eating the whole thing.

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^^ And these bunnies, which are actually made of cupcakes, were the cutest! Our theme was “Some Bunny Is One,” and Steph smashed is out of the park with her surprise birthday cakes. Love you little sis!

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^^ Facetiming Dad (who couldn’t take time off work for this particular trip) while we sang happy birthday!

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^^ Success!

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^^ Loves everything about it.

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^^ Gift opening wasn’t necessarily Lotte’s favorite part of the party, but it was (one of) mine! Look at this adorable doll my sis and Brian picked up for Steph while they were on their honeymoon in Italy! The. Stinkin’. Cutest. Now I just have to hide it from her so she can’t actually play with it.

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^^ The greatest family who made Lotte’s first first birthday party oh-so-special. I can’t thank you guys enough!

Lotte’s actual birthday is this Thursday, so my dad and stepmom are arriving tonight and my stepdad tomorrow, and we’re basically just going to have a week of Lotte fun time. Because you only turn one once, right?

Bis bald!

On Weekends, We Like to Party!

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Welcome to Monday, friends! Do weekends seriously scream by, especially in the summer, or is it just me? This weekend was jam packed for us (as is most of our July, actually), but it was a lot of fun. Chris and I split parents’ nights out when he saw a concert at Red Rocks on Friday and I attended the same one Saturday. (Concerts at Red Rocks, by the way, are never bad, even when you have no idea what band you’re seeing, like we didn’t 😉 Luckily the band we saw — The Avett Brothers — turned out to be amazing!)

Saturday we also had a birthday party in Denver for our friends’ 2-year-old, and yesterday a friend flew into town from New York to stay with us for a couple days.

As I said … our weekend was for partying, friends 😉 Hope yours was great, too!

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^^ This little girl certainly loved the birthday cake part of the birthday party!

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^^ I could stare at Red Rocks views all day, every day. We headed over to the area a tad early so we could tailgate before the show started, which is always my recommendation.

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^^ Love these ladies ❤

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^^ Not the best photo, and it’s really hard to capture the awesomeness of Red Rocks, but believe me when I say you’ll never look at another music venue the same after attending a concert here.

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^^ Just making sure our guest Gavin is cool … he is!

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^^ Chris took Gavin & Lotte into Golden to do the Lariat Loop scenic drive, stop by Buffalo Bill’s grave and grab some beers at the Golden City Brewery. How cute are these two?!

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^^ Two men and a little lady.

Happy trails, weekend, until we meet again!

Bis bald!

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!