A Return to Colorado: Jet Boat Colorado Edition

I wouldn’t say I “feel the need for speed” but as we raced across the Colorado River with Jet Boat Colorado, I sure did like it. A lot. 

I had never heard of jet boating until a friend went to New Zealand last year and posted a video of her 45 mph adventure through narrow canyons as their boat barely skirted the banks of the river. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to try it out myself until I learned Jet Boat Colorado offers Coloradoans the same adrenaline-charged adventure as our Kiwi counterparts on a slice of the Colorado River outside of De Beque, a historic community nestled near the Roan Plateau and Grand Junction.

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A Return to Colorado: The Broadmoor Edition

The perfect end to the perfect week in Colorado was three days of perfection at The Broadmor. And there’s no better way to kick off Said Perfection by dining in the 5-star Penrose Room after a grubby week of getting dirty in the backcountry. Fortunately, we clean up nicely.

I loooove Bode’s cultured conversation starters when he’s trying to act proper. Last time as he surveyed the menu, he observed “I hear the salad is quite good here” and this time, it was, “Sooooooo, taxes these days.”

Early the next morning, I went for my traditional solo hike up North Cheyenne Canon and raced back to get ready to The Broadmoor’s fabulous brunch.  Bananas foster. Shrimp diablo. Plum Calvados Crepes. We take our brunching very seriously and Hadley went into panic mode after round 3. “I don’t know what to get now….I feel so empty inside…oh wait, I’m rather full.” These are true First World Problems, people.

One of the highlights of visiting in the summer is renting a cabana by the pool and almost without fail, rain always interferes with our plans. Fortunately, we were able to soak it all in for 1.5 hours before calling it quits and taking a nap in our rooms. 

We are all obsessed with The Broadmoor but no one more than this guy. Every other restaurant or hotel pales in comparison as he sputters out “This would never happen at The Broadmoor,” which means 99.9 perent of his life is a disappointment. I found him napping like this in his luxurious robe that afternoon. At least 0.1 percent of his life is bliss.

That evening, we dined at our favorite restaurant, The Summit, followed by bowling at Play at The Broadmoor. I was worried how Hadley would do with her broken arm but she bowled her first strike ever, thereby proving that maybe having a handicap can actually be helpful. 

The next day, we had one of Colorado’s most epic experiences via the Pikes Peak Cog Reailway! I’ve climbed several 14,000-foot peaks but nothing can quite prepare you for arriving at the summit of 14,114-foot Pikes Peak via the world’s highest Cog Train and being greeted by an onslaught of out-of-shape tourists. If you can’t beat ‘em, you’d better believe we joined ‘em by eating fresh doughnuts and relishing the views from the summit.

Later that evening, 10 days of beautiful Colorado scenery overload was capped off by  Seven Falls and delicious dinner at The Broadmoor’s 1858 restaurant. As I looked across the table at these exhausted, happy people, my heart was so full. We may not always be at our best at home but when adventuring, we shine as our best selves. And it makes all those painful road trips when they were younger to see the avid travelers they have become.

Leaving The Broadmoor always feels like I’m leaving a part of me behind. As we pulled into our neighborhood after the long drive home Jamie observed, “Arvada no longer feels like home and Midway has yet to feel like home. The only place I feel at home is at The Broadmoor.”

We couldn’t agree with you more.

A Return to Colorado: The Keystone Edition

We were in the car for much of our trip to Colorado. In addition to the 9-hour drive from Utah, Keystone Science School was about 1.5 hours away from Denver and Crested Butte was another 3 hours away (where Jamie and I spent Tuesday through Friday). Early Friday morning, we made the 4-hour drive from Denver to pick-up Hadley at the airport (stopping at Country Road Cafe in Kittredge en route to brunch with my dear friend Tina). Then it was another 1.5 hours back to Keystone. We picked up Bode on Saturday and drove to The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, another 2.5 hours. And then there was the final 9.5-hour drive back to Utah at the end of it all.

That’s 30+ hours of driving. Fortunately, I had downloaded Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home, the survival story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed somewhere deep in the Andes. The intersection of much of our trip was off Highway 285 in the heart of 14er country so it was fascinating to have this backdrop as we listened to this harrowing story.

As we crafted our Colorado itinerary, we knew we had to plan our activities around picking up and dropping off Bode at Keystone Science School so that involved spending two nights in Keystone. I’ve always enjoyed this area. With easy access to Denver–just 75 miles away– and surrounded by the 2.3-million acre White River National Fore, Dillon Reservoir, a fabulous network of trails, popular mountain towns Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon, there is always something to do.

Bode’s KSS drop-off was at 10 a.m. Monday morning. Or so I thought. We pulled up and started unloading his gear but it was weirdly quiet and devoid of the frenzy you’d expect. As we came to find out, Hadley’s small group was supposed to report at 10 a.m. and Bode was at noon. Imagine how thrilled he and Jamie were to learn yes, we’d woken up early but HURRAY, we had two additional hours to explore this beautiful place!

We hiked to Sapphire Point (though I’m not sure I’d call it a hike; it was more of a 1.5-mile stroll) to the most beautiful overlook of Dillon Reservoir, hemmed in by the Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges  (along with several tipi structures for kids to explore along the way).

We also climbed to the top of Loveland Pass overlooking the Continental Divide.

“One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king…everything the light touches.”

OK, more like Jamie was relaying the time we froze our butts off on the chairlift as the winds whipped the Continental Divide at Loveland Ski Area.

Once we finally got around to dropping off Bode at Keystone Science School, he went on to have a fabulous week! (Read the details here.)

7-mile Challenge Hike (in red hoodie)

Jamie and I had a fabulous time as well! We lunched in Breckenridge….

And then returned to Keystone to check into our SummitCove condo overlooking Keystone Lake with excellent access to the Summit County Paved Recreation Path System, a paved network of 70+ miles of trails that connect Keystone, Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail. After dinner, we biked from Keystone to the reservoir and tried to spy on Bode (we could see the camp from the trail) but to no avail. We went for a leisurely stroll along the pathway at dusk just soaking in the beauty of the area.

The next day, it was off to Crested Butte but we returned four days later after picking up Hadley at the airport. While Jamie rested, she and I enjoyed Keystone’s Friday Afternoon Club atop Dercum Mountain. Friday foot passenger lift tickets up the River Run Gondola are free, and there are complimentary outdoor games like cornhole, slacklines and horseshoes, food and drink specials and live music. And the views? They speak for themselves.

Cornhole with a broken arm for the win

For our final night in Keystone, we stayed at The Springs near the base of River Run Condo. Not only was the location spot-on but there was an awesome pool and hot tub area, a home theater room, playroom, workout room and more.

Here we are practicing stellar parenting. It’s important to ease yourself back into everything after having the week off. 

In honor of Canada Day, I woke up early the next morning to go for a walk. Alberta is “Wild Rose Country” and the trail was bursting with them.

I get it, ‘Merica. You’re pretty darn awesome, too.

A Return to Colorado: The Denver Edition

Following an exhilarating ride with Jet Boat Colorado, Jamie, Bode and I continued our drive to Denver. The timing could not have worked out more perfectly. Our dear friend Lisa’s daughter, Whitney, was leaving on a mission to New Zealand and all the festivities were that weekend. That night was her going away party in their large, luxurious backyard and it was a dream to reconnect with so many people we love. 

We stayed at our friends, the Carrolls, who generously gave us their master bedroom to accommodate Jamie’s myriad of sleeping/health issues and it’s always a non-stop party when you have a family of 8 + our family crammed into their darling house.

Sunday morning, I woke up early to walk along the Ralston Creek Trail, just breathing in the memories and glorious old trees that shaded my route. At church, Whitney gave a wonderful “farewell” talk, we reconnected with many more wonderful people, and then Lisa invited us all over to her house to eat the Cafe Rio leftovers from the party.

We dropped Bode off at his bestie Nicky’s house to play for several hours and when I picked them up, it made my heart just burst to see them together. 

 

Our mere 36 hours in Denver was a whirlwind crammed full of get togethers, a farewell, lots of visit (but not enough) and late-night chats. As we were eating lunch at Lisa’s, I commented that returning to Denver is tough without having our family with whom to stay and Eva objected (the same woman who gave up her bed for us). And she’s right.

This wonderful chapter of our lives will never be over because of friends who will always be family.

Bode’s Electrifying Summer to Imagine!

Bode was uncharacteristically nervous as we waited in Keystone Science School’s registration line. It felt like a family reunion with a flurry of high-fives and fist-bumps as returning campers proudly showcased their beaded necklaces from previous years. It didn’t take long for a kind counselor to notice Bode’s apprehension as a first-year camper and introduce him to other kids.

He quickly connected with a boy who would earn the nickname “Marshmallow” from his s’mores T-shirt. When we noticed he was a returning camper, we asked about his favorite activity from last year and he divulged “I learned how to make a prison.”

The Warden (as he become known to me) would become Bode’s best friend.

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Things I Miss About Colorado

October 8, 2016 was the first night we slept in our new home. Today marks six months since we moved in.

As I was going through my draft folder, I saw that I had started this list “Things I Miss About Colorado” back in October. The longer we’re away, the more I miss Colorado and yet Utah somehow becomes more amenable to me. Every new month brings back Colorado memories and I suspect it will take at least a complete year until I can really move on and be able to truly celebrate the new traditions we’re building.

It’s curious because I really don’t want to move back. I have a firm confirmation this is where we’re supposed to be but I often wish I could go back in time to the way it was when Hadley and Bode would play for hours with their stuffed animals and our world was full of endless days of magic and wonder.

The biggest thing I’ve been mourning is the loss of childhood. Hadley and Bode spent a magical childhood in Colorado and Utah will be their adolescence. My job gave them unprecedented access to grand openings, exclusive previews and travel, travel, travel. I laughed when we returned to the Colorado Springs Grand Opening of Great Wolf Lodge in February. As they gave Hadley her VIP lanyard, she raved, “It’s so good to have something around my neck again!”

Ahhh, the life of a former VIP-turned-regular tween.

Hadley initially adjusted surprisingly well, quickly making friends and landing on the honor roll but has had some heart-wrenching struggles these last two months that have less to do with the move but more to do with toxic middle school. Bode forms much deeper attachments to people and places so the move was harder on him but he is slowly forming deeper connections and is in a happy place with weekly coding classes at the library with his best buddies and spring soccer starting soon.

As for me, I’m still feeling at a loss. Of course, I miss the amazing perks and privileges that came with the life I built in Colorado. But mostly, I miss knowing what new direction I should be taking. I miss being known and needed, and being a builder and connector of people.

Here are other some things from my list of Things I Miss About Colorado:

Our friends. Jamie and I were best friends with the parents of our kids’ best friends. Every time we got together (which was often),  it was a huge party for everyone. We’re making wonderful friends here but it will take years to rebuild. I miss sending an email to see if anyone wants to go for free 7-Eleven Slurpees and a bike ride…and having 30 people show up.

Our house. It had a much better layout and the rooms were more spacious. We’re growing used to some of our frustrations with our new space and will be working a lot to install our yard this spring and summer.

The many wonderful places. Golden. Strolling along Clear Creek. Washington Avenue. The hikes. Chautquaua. YMCA of the Rockies. Playing for hours and biking through Van Bibber Creek.

Target was 2 minutes away, Costco was 10 minutes. Though I’m not a big shopper, I miss the convenience of regular store hours. Small-town living often has shortened hours and the most random closure dates. Yes, Woodland Biscuit Company, I’m talking about the fact that you’re closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays after we drove a half hour for breakfast.

October and April in Denver. Glorious. Mud season in the mountains is not.

Free stuff. Since I’m still running Mile High Mamas, I continue to get invited to a barrage of event, VIP previews and travel invites. It’s depressing not to do any of them (and not be able to afford the ones in Utah!)

Things I don’t miss:

The view behind our fence

Traffic

Pollution

The big city and an endless barrage of franchises

Marijuana in the news every day

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Of course, I could write a separate list of Things I Love About Midway after just six months and I know it will continue to grow.

To combat our family’s homesickness, we are returning for 10 days of play this summer and I cannot wait to visit our Colorado home again.

Looking for rainbows

From the draft folder: May 8, 2015. I’m dedicating this to my Grandpa Wilde because it would have been his birthday today.

Denver lies within a semi-arid, continental climate zone so anytime it rains more than one day in a row, it feels like we’ve been plunked down in the middle of the Amazon. I’ve lost track of how many days it has rained, which has put a serious dent in Bode’s soccer season, not to mention my mountain adventures but I’ve been so busy I’m glad I haven’t been tempted to play.

On Thursday night, I was helping the kids with their homework when I happened to glance out the window and saw this:

It’s rained for week and this is the first rainbow I’ve noticed. Note to self: Look up more. Life happens when you slow down to enjoy it.

As much as I miss the sun, you won’t hear any complaints from me; after a dry winter, we desperately needs the moisture. Dear Colorado: It sure would have been nice to have Said Moisture in the form of snow during ski season. Please plan accordingly for 2015/16.

For Mother’s Day weekend, it’s supposed to rain, rain, rain with a possibility of snow.

We’re Moab-bound to the land of sun, desert, mountain biking, hiking and 65-degree temperatures–talk about the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. Have a great weekend!

Family Fun at Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs

I watched as Hadley brazenly stepped into the Wolf Tail launch pad at Great Wolf Lodge. This was a slide unlike any I’d ever witnessed. She followed the staffer’s instructions to cross her arms and legs and wait for the countdown. Then just like a magician’s trap door, the bottom DROPPED out and she free-fell 20 feet before being catapulted around a 360-degree high-speed loop.

Bode was almost purple with worry and we made a pact. “Don’t worry, Bode. I’ll only go if you go.” Surely, there was safety in numbers when my cautious son was involved?

Despite the certain death that awaited us on the Wolf Tail, my family was having a fabulous time at the grand opening of Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs’ expansive indoor water park, fun-filled attractions and family-focused entertainment.

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The Broadmoor’s Bliss: Part 1,205

We first went to AAA Five-Diamond The Broadmoor when the kids were ages 3 and 1. Almost a decade later, we still can’t get enough and it’s truly our favorite Colorado vacation.

When The Broadmoor Magazine’s editor gave me my latest assignment, I was thrilled. “Growing Up Broadmoor” is to be a reflective piece about all the many wonderful memories we’ve had over the years. It’s turning out to be more difficult to write than I thought because there are so many grand gestures and beautifully small nuances that are a part of our DNA. We love and appreciate that special place like no other.

Usually when I’m on assignment, we’re busy with activities related to the story. The Ranch at Emerald Valley. The White Lights Ceremony for the holidays. Outdoor adventures with Broadmoor Outfitters. This time, we were simply coming back “home” after moving away…and that will be my lead-in for the story.

We arrived on New Year’s Day, just as their 12 Days of Christmas was wrapping. We delved in head-first: Casting protective enchantments a.k.a learning to cast a fly rod, which was no less magical than at Hogwarts.

Hadley got a fancy camera for Christmas so she and Jamie attended the photography seminar held from The Broadmoor’s acclaimed photographer, Mic Garofolo. We adore this man! He has been the most delightful paparazzo as he’s followed us around the resort taking pictures of our family for years. He’s so generous that he offered them a private session the next day and she is SUPER excited to delve into learning more about photography.

It’s been four years since we’ve been to The Broadmoor around the holidays so we loved checking out their Gingerbread Village, which was actually a life-sized candy train in honor of the the 125th anniversary of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway Steam Engine, the world’s highest cog train.

We were thrilled to finally stay in the renovated West Tower and it was just as beautiful as we imagined despite the crummy lighting in this picture. And Bode’s awkward pose.

As we settled in, I heard Hadley scream “this is the best mirror EVER!”

As if she already didn’t spend HOURS getting ready, this built-in TV just made it 10 times worse.

We’d hoped to take the shuttle to see the Winter Lights at Seven Falls but it closed early due to the holiday so we drowned our sorrows at our favorite restaurant, The Summit. Hadley tried escargot for the first time, and we all indulged in Beef Tenderloin au Poivre, Slow-roasted Monkfish, Cinnamon Crème Brûlée and Apple Mille-Feuille as we discussed Jamie’s no-sugar challenge.

That began upon our sad, sad return to reality.

The next day was uncharacteristically low-key. I arose early to do my traditional solo hike up North Cheyenne Canyon. I chased the sunrise and the entire canyon was glowing when I arrived at the base but was gone by the time I’d hiked far enough for a view. 

Life lesson for 2017: Don’t blink or you’ll miss it but what remains is pretty darn spectacular.

Meanwhile back at The Broadmoor….

When you have a tomboy mom who is clueless about being a real girl, I highly recommend their spa’s introductory makeup tutorial. 

And also their 50-minute massage (Jamie) and glorious facial (me).

Following lunch at the Golden Bee English Pub, we split up. While Hadley and Jamie were at Mic’s photography session, Bode and I headed over to Broadmoor Outfitters where we went on a scavenger hunt. I’ll admit I wasn’t too enthused but as it turns out, scavenger hunts have gone high-tech and are much more fun than those of my youth. We downloaded the app, Scavenger Ox, and set about to discover The Broadmoor in a hilarious new way.

The resort is know for its upscale clientele so Bode and I aren’t proud of some of the things we did that included asking a stranger for a piggy-back ride and singing “Let It Go” whilst outfitted with my own Elsa braid graphic but it was all worth it for the win. Err…right?

That evening, we bowled to our heart’s content at PLAY. We’re out of focus in this picture and my eyes are closed but that’s just a detraction from the fact I bowled my worst game ever: 49 in the eighth frame.

And the fact that on our fun final round, Bode actually bowled BETTER with his eyes closed and with his left hand.

Somehow because it was at The Broadmoor, it all just made sense.

Monarch Mountain: A perfect family ski vacation

I learned to ski on a tiny two-lift hill within Calgary, Canada’s city limits. As much as I love exploring large ski areas, I feel drawn to these smaller homegrown resorts that are solely about the skiing without the pomp, circumstance and inflated prices. A place where everyone knows your name…and that I don’t drink beer and my name is not Norm.

Monarch Mountain is such a place. Located 150 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, this small ski resort has soaring elevations, stellar family terrain, unbeatable views and big snow (it is second only to Wolf Creek for the biggest snow totals in Colorado). Unlike Summit County’s sardine-packed resorts, Monarch has no neighbors and there’s nothing fake about it—including the all-natural snow.

Click here to keep reading about our many adventures on the mountain, as well as our glorious stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.