I can’t believe today marks one whole month on the road! Seems we’ve only been traveling for two weeks—time is going fast and Jimmy and I agree we’re traveling too fast, as well. Some of this has been dictated by the availability at campgrounds and RV parks (sometimes we can only get a 3 or 4 day reservation) and some has been our own eagerness to move west quickly.
We were lucky to be able to spend almost two whole weeks with my brother, Dave, his wife, Heather, and their two girls, Chloe and Caitlin. Our kids were happy to have playmates at every outing and Jimmy and I were happy to hang with family.
So, let’s see, what did we do last week?? I’ll have to look back at my calendar because all I can think about right now is the hour it took us to back the trailer into our current site (insert laughing/crying emoji). At one point a fellow camper asked me if I wanted him to back it in for me (no, thank you! I need the practice, man!) and one camp host who passed us several times in his little golf cart asked for reassurance that I didn’t have any weapons in the truck (ha! Don’t know why—Jimmy and I both kept our cool and high-fived, at long last, when the Airstream was parked. Dad—don’t know how we ever got the trailer into your driveway—this street was much wider than yours!)
Boyd Lake State Park Scenic Beach
Anyway, last week!! So, Sunday—my brother and his family came over to our campground to spend the afternoon with us at Boyd Lake beach. It wasn’t the most scenic of beaches, but it was packed with Labor Day Weekend partiers. Everyone had easy-ups and beach tents, some had brought tables and chairs and grills—radios were blasting, the smell of grilled meat was in the air; the lake was teeming with boats and water- and jet-skiers. It was almost 100 degrees out and families frolicked in the water. . . but neither Jimmy nor I could understand the blissful frolicking—the shoreline was an ooze of muddy sand, the kind of goop you see in horror movies swallowing unfortunate supporting cast members; it stuck to your feet in thick swathes. . . the kids loved it. Also, no one seemed to notice (or care) that the beach appeared to have been the site of a recent mass murder of seagulls—feathers, feathers everywhere! Seriously, you know those beaches that have white seashells peeking out of the sand and you stroll along the shore plucking them out to gaze at them wonderingly? Imagine all those white treasures are feathers. . . and then multiply them by a thousand. The wind would pick up and toss a handful of feathers into the air depositing them in people’s hair and decorating their paper Labor Day dinner plates with curls of fluff. But nobody seemed to mind—shrug? We ate our chips, guzzled our water, and watched our kids get muddy in the lake.
After showers (of course!) we headed back to our place for a potluck dinner and campfire. As always, it was great to share a meal with family and it was a wonderful end to the day!
Dinner with our Colorado Family aka The Colorado Quinns.
Labor Day! We had a nice, chill day at David and Heather’s house—doing our laundry (thanks so much for offering up your machines!!), grocery shopping (girl time!!) and a delicious dinner of salad and smashed potatoes with all the toppings. The kids played beautifully all day together (except when Cassidy got overprotective of her brother and sister and forcibly removed cousins from the vicinity. We chatted with Heather and Dave about planning the rest of our Colorado route (thanks so much for all your suggestions, Heather!) and Jimmy spent most of the day researching campgrounds (man! The research and reservation part takes so much longer than he or I was anticipating! But Jimmy’s been doing an awesome job of finding good campsites for us!)
We moved about 45 minutes south to St. Vrain State Park—we had a great site right next to a pond (I love the sites near water) and after watching the behind the scenes dvd for Wall-E that afternoon, Aidan was inspired to go outside and sketch the pond. It turned out to be an art-y afternoon with Cassidy exploring dot art painting and turning her body into her work of art.
Aidan pensively drawing.
Jimmy looks on in horror as Cassidy really gets into her art.
Fiona had been so anxious to open one of her envelopes from her cousin (or, as they like to call each other: best-friend-sister-cousins), Izzy, who had secretly worked all summer compiling “Open When” envelopes for Fiona to bring on our journey (“Open when you’re in Utah,” “Open when you miss me,” “Open when you’re bored”). The “Open when you’re bored” envelope was a treasure trove of paper puzzles and games—so fun!
We had a wonderfully classic camping night with dinner outside followed by songs, stories, and s’mores around the campfire. That’s what I love about this new life—at the end of the day, we’re camping!
Such a great day! We drove about an hour Northwest to meet Heather and her girls at Rocky Mountain National Park. Oh my goodness—so beautiful! It was a crisp, clear day, mid-60’s—perfect hiking weather! Heather had suggested the Bear Lake trailhead—“lots of good trails for littles!” And she was right! However, in my elation of being in the park, I picked a hike that was a bit too ambitious for our crew (insert laughing/crying emoji). There were hikes ranging from 256 ft. to 2.5 miles one way—I thought the 1.8 mile hike to Emerald Lake would be perfect; hike to the lake, picnic lunch, hike back down the mountain. Easy peasy! I’d forgotten that a 1.8 mile walk around a neighborhood is quite a bit different than a hike with increasing elevation—whoopsy daisy!
The uphill hike begins.
There were three lakes on the hike: Nymph, Dream, and Emerald. After a fairly easy half mile, we arrived at Nymph Lake—it was gorgeous (of course!) and the perfect spot to take some photos.
Nymph Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
We then began the next leg—.6 miles to Dream Lake. It would turn out to be less-than-dreamy for some of our shorter-legged hikers.
It started out well enough—Aidan discovered a rocky outcropping just perfect for climbing and he and Fiona scampered up its side like mountain goats. The rest of the group joined them and said the views were amazing!
Cassidy was on my back (first hike with the Baby Tula carrier—thanks for the recommendation, Amy—love it!) and got antsy when we lingered (totally got annoyed with me stopping to take pictures all the time—couldn’t help it—around every bend was another incredible view!) so we continued on up the trail.
It was then that the space between the members of our little band of hikers began to stretch—like bright pearls on a string, we’d been ambling along, but now we stretched the string longer. . . and longer. . . until 3 pearls popped off and headed back down the mountain (see you at the bottom, Heather, Chloe, and Caitlin!). Not long after that, Fiona began to complain, “my legs are tired!” And shortly after that we had a small, red-headed mutiny on our hands. Despite my cajoling and promising we only had a few hundred feet left to go, when we crossed this incredibly picturesque mountain creek via an adorable, little wooden bridge, Fiona sat down on the edge of the wooden planks, looked up at me with her sweet face and quietly and firmly said, “No. I am not taking another step.”
And she didn’t.
Even when I walked away.
Around the bend.
And hid behind a shrub to keep an eye on her.
This trail is quite popular and we were pretty much surrounded by other hikers most of the time. Finally, after seeing that Fiona wasn’t budging, I asked a pair of hikers heading down the mountain to, “tell the little redhead that her mom is still hiking up the trail.” That worked. She reluctantly got up and trudged up the trail and, thankfully, about 200 steps later we arrived at Dream Lake. Swew! Cassidy was happy to get off my back and run around and the rest of us were happy to sit down. Lunch. Pictures.
Lunch at Emerald Lake
And then Cassidy announced, “I have to poop!” Doh! No bathrooms up here or anywhere along the trail—it’s moments like these that you think nostalgically of the diaper days (what?! Can’t believe I said that).
I knew we had about a half hour before we reached critical mass, so I strapped Cassidy back into the carrier and, with Fiona, we headed back down the mountain—three more bright pearls skipping off the string: pop! pop! pop! Aidan and Jimmy determinedly continued hiking to Emerald Lake—another .7 miles and all uphill steps.
Aidan and Jimmy continuing up the trail to Emerald Lake
Luckily, Cassidy fell asleep in the carrier on the way down (I guess she didn’t have to go so urgently after all??) and Fiona and I lounged on a bench in the shade at the trail head, reconnecting with Heather and her girls while we waited for the boys—they had a great hike and by then we were all ready to get back on the shuttle (the kids loved it—big windows and no seatbelts?! They couldn’t believe it) and head down the mountain to our parking lot.
Heading back down with an exhausted Cassidy on my back.
All in all, a fantastic day in Rocky Mountain National Park.
A whole lotta nothin’! We intended to meet Heather and her girls at a museum but Cassidy was up in the night coming down with a cough and snotty-nosed cold (probably caught something from kissing her “boyfriend”—that’ll teach her to kiss strange boys!) so she and I were in need of a lay-low day. I can’t remember what we did but I’m sure it involved pajamas and movies. . . .
Travel day! We headed south about an hour to Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado. We don’t do too much on travel days (except travel!) and even though this campground was only an hour away, this day was no different; by the time we packed everything up in the morning, traveled, and got situated in our new site, it was late afternoon. We had time for some shopping at Trader Joe’s (woo hoo! We love TJ’s—all our familiar foods plus some new stuff—Yuzu hot sauce, anyone?!?) and then we were in for the night.
Wings Over the Rockies! We met Heather and her girls at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver. It’s located on the former Lowry Air Force Base and the main part of it is a huge hangar with military and civilian aircraft. They were having an Inside the Cockpit special event during which the kids could sit in actual aircraft cockpits and the tour guides would tell them about all the controls (pretty cool!).
Aidan was recruited by the Civil Air Patrol (perhaps they were attracted by his head-to-toe camouflage outfit?). An auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is “not a military or boarding school, but a youth development program that incorporates aviation and military customs and courtesies.” Of course Aidan wants to join—it’s right up his alley, but we’d have to be living in one location so he could attend the weekly meetings—maybe someday. . . .
After a picnic on the lawn outside the museum, we decided to head back to the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver where that amazing GF vegan restaurant, Vital Root, is. We walked around and ended up at a city playground. While the kids ran around, Jimmy and I sat on a bench watching and relaxing.
“Isn’t this great?” I said, “It’s Saturday afternoon and we’re sitting at a playground in Colorado.”
“No chores,” Jimmy grinned at me.
“Yeah! You’d be doing Fall clean-up of the yard right now!’
“Cutting down those grasses!”
We basked in the lack-of-chores glow until Aidan ambled over and said, “I’m bored.”
And it’s back to reality! Yeah, we can’t avoid all the annoying things—there’s the fact that our 12 year old is literally outgrowing playgrounds; he jumps up to swing on the monkey bars and realizes his feet are still dragging on the ground. He’s in that ‘tween stage (does it ever end?)—outgrowing and growing up. . . .
We grabbed a quick bite at Vital Root, hugs all around with Heather, Chloe, and Caitlin, and then hit a natural foods grocer on our way out of Denver.
That night, back in the campground, I realized another annoying thing—we can NOT skip Cassidy’s nap willy nilly (we can skip it willy and we can skip it nilly but we can never skip it both willy and nilly). She’d had the mere whisper of a nap on our drive into Denver but was pretty much a basket case that night. She’s been quite the trooper with all this nap-on-the-fly stuff with a couple travel days a week, but I think it’s all catching up with her (poor baby!). I’ve gotta protect her nap time a bit more. . . .
An unexpected chill day—we were supposed to spend the day with my brother and his family (one last hurrah!) but my sister-in-law texted to say they’d all begun to come down with that luscious cough and runny-nose virus (so sorry for sharing our germs!!) and so, alas, we would not be hanging out. . . .
It ended up being a day of laundry and chill time (also much needed) and Aidan, inspired by a conversation with a tour guide at Wings Over the Rockies, spent the entire day constructing an aircraft carrier out of duct tape and cardboard. He also made a stealth bomber to launch off the deck of the carrier with a track and rubber bands (love this homeschooling/roadschooling/unschooling thing).
Dinner, campfire and good night.
Makeshift bathtub for Cassidy – loving the outdoor shower on the side of the Airstream!
Which brings me to today! Another travel day! I managed an hour-long hike on the trails just outside of the Cherry Creek campground and came back home to find Jimmy chatting with the Busy Campers, Shoam and Celena—a full-timer couple we’d been following on Instagram. (Have to say, I love following others’ adventures and to then meet them in person is just the cherry on top of my dairy-free sundae 😉 Anyway, Shoam and Celena (so lovely!) chatted with us and graciously answered my peppering of questions about full-timing. Would’ve loved to chat more but we had to pack up (the campground hosts tooling around in their golf carts were eyeing us and tapping their watches). Side note: like every party we attend, we’re the last to leave the campground on check-out day.
Hiking around Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado
We headed south for just over an hour to Garden of the Gods RV Resort in Colorado Springs. The site we’d been assigned was easy enough to back into, but for a couple reasons we decided to switch sites and the next site was, well, more challenging. Oh my lord, it took us an hour!! Luckily no other campers were pulling into or out of the sites around us at that time, but we did have plenty of audience members anyway. At one point, one of our older neighbors asked, “Want me to do it for you?” as he slowly dragged on his cigarette.
“No, thank you! I need to do it myself!” I called back cheerily through gritted teeth as I backed up again—four feet too far to the left—and told Cassidy for the seventeenth time to put her butt in the seat because she was blocking my side mirror.
A campground host in a golf cart kept whizzing by and paused on several occasions to repeat the same joke, “you ain’t got any weapons in there, do ya?” Har, har. Despite the seemingly Sisyphean task, Jimmy and I managed to get our Airstream into its spot. Aaaaaaahhhhh. Time to relax at last.
Shortly after we were all settled in, Fiona presented Jimmy and me with an original piece of art—a thank you for doing a good job of backing our home into its current location. 🙂 Hopefully, some day, backing in won’t be such a momentous occasion? Or is that the naivete of a newbie and backing in can always be somewhat of a challenge?
So that catches us up for now! Thanks for tagging along and happy trails to you all wherever you may roam!