A Colorado New Year

As we were making our plans for the Winter Break, I looked at the looooong 2.5 weeks ahead of us and declared a road trip to Colorado was in order. Of course, the kids were game–they miss their friends desperately. Jamie was slower to bite but when when I received a magazine assignment from The Broadmoor to sweeten the pot, he was ALL IN.

We stayed two nights at my beloved Colorado Chautauqua’s darling cottages, two nights with our friends the Larsons and two nights at The Broadmoor. Our trip wasn’t too long, nor too short, it was just right. #CallMeGoldilocks.

Tired boy, warm fireplace

We had a rough reentry to Colorado. There are two driving routes–one through Colorado’s mountains and the other through Wyoming. Colorado’s mountain passes are sketchy in winter and Wyoming’s winds and ice are what nightmares are made of. We checked the forecast and declared Colorado was the better route and all was going smashingly until my friend Tina texted me that I-70 was closed down at Vail Pass. Now, I’m not going to start a tirade of my bitter hatred toward this freeway which is a billion dollar NIGHTMARE for Colorado’s tourism industry. We decided not to take a long detour and just hope for the best and miraculously, Vail reopened and traffic was moving! Until we arrived in Frisco (outside of Breckenridge) where we went at a snail’s pace for hours thanks to ski traffic.

We arrived much later than anticipated, checked into our cottage at Colorado Chautauqua and headed straight to dinner at their historic Dining Hall. It’s my favorite ever patio dining ever and in the winter, there were cozy fireplaces and charming Christmas decorations as we downed cornbread with apple butter, shiitake mushroom risotto and gourmet burgers with fresh tomato preserves and horseradish ranch. We went to bed completely exhausted but full to the brim.

I’ve been missing my Colorado hiking trails so much, especially since my friends and I hiked the Mesa Trail straight through to Chautauqua last summer.  Though Colorado hadn’t received much snow up until that point, it was cold and portions of the trail were icy. So, that morning when I woke up in my cozy cottage, I literally had to drag myself out of bed. And I’m so glad I did.

That network of favorite trails has raised my children. I first discovered it with my mom hiking group when Hadley was 3 months, I almost passed out trying to climb it when I was pregnant with Bode, I’ve struggled up steep pitches pushing them in their double stroller through snow, we’ve participated in their memorable theater hikes and I’ve loved seeing them reach summits of their own.

But that day was the first time I witnessed the sunrise there, making me believe I’d never really SEEN Chautauqua until that moment.

We met Tina and her kids at Country Road Cafe and happily stuffed our faces with Crispy Waffle-battered Sweet Potato Fries topped with eggs, ham, cheese, hollandaise and honey drizzle. 

We’d planned to skate Evergreen Lake but it was closed due to Denver’s lack of snow so we took the kids to their favorite bouldering location at Three Sisters/Alderfer in Evergreen.

It warmed my heart as as were hiking back to the car and Hadley pointed out the Bluebird Meadows trail sign and reminisced, “Do you remember when there was a blue bird sitting on this sign?” So many wonderful memories.

More wonders: so many friends organized parties for us. We dropped Bode at his buddy Porter’s Nerf Fun War Blowout, Hadley went to a girl’s night out part at her friend Maeve’s while Jamie and I had game night with her parents and Bode got invited for a sleepover with his besties. As we pulled up to the house, I saw the silhouettes of four ecstatic boys–Nicky, Vinnie, Curtis and Zach–waiting for him and their sheer joy of being reunited was one of my favorite moments of our trip.

And then I’m sure these gamers stayed up until I-don’t-want-to-know-how-late.

The next morning, Jamie, Hadley and I went for one last hike at Chautauqua before checking out, whereupon we disagreed about who was the most out of shape.

Hint: It wasn’t these two billy goats.

My friend Eva organized our 2nd Annual FHE Showdown with several families at the church. Last year during the inaugural event (read all about it in the FHE Musical Chairs of Death), Jamie and I had just made the decision to move but did not tell anyone for a couple of months. We walked away from that insanely fun evening saying “How can we possibly leave these amazing people?” We still feel the same way after a night of dodgeball, blood, games, basketball, a ripped shirt and a competitive game of musical chairs whereupon Jamie was dethroned.

Kids musical chairs

Adult musical chairs

Fortunately, he didn’t throw out his shoulder playing dodgeball; he only saves that for marshmallow wars (see previous Musical Chairs of Death post).

Clear Creek

We had a low-key and fun New Year’s Eve with friends, took a memorable walk along the now-frozen Clear Creek and I got up early for a walk in Van Bibber Open Space. This was the outdoor playground closest to our home and I pondered how many hours have we spent jumping, splashing, bike racing and tree climbing there?!

Then I got tired of my deep, effusive thoughts and spent the rest of my explorations cracking ice puddles like the five-year-old I am.

We went back to Arvada 2nd Ward for church and it felt like the rest of our trip: like we never left. I had so many hugs and “welcome homes” from those beloved people.

I asked Bode his thoughts about coming back and he said it was both better and worse than he anticipated. The better: wonderful friends organizing sleepovers, game nights, lunches, Nerf gun showdowns, girls night out, Country Road Cafe breakfast, Chautauqua and Evergreen hikes, comfy beds and late nights. The worse (according to Bod and us all): Leaving.

But one thing that was confirmed is that Colorado will always be home.

Stay tuned for fun at The Broadmoor.

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