Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Vacation

Vacation, all I ever wanted, vacation all I ever needed... Luckily, Chris' family has a cabin in Colorado so free lodging makes it actually possible for a family of six to go on vacation.

Day 1:  Travel day.  We learned early that with four kids and an entire day of travel the secret is to make a few really good stops.  We stop for a picnic (cheap) and play at a park for an hour or at a rest stop where the kids can chase Chris around.  Or if the weather is bad we'll resort to a McDonald's play land.  The key is to get them moving around so they can sit again for 3-4 hours.  We also always buy a few new movies so they actually capture their attention.  One thing I learned this year is I am much too old to ride a Merry Go Round.  So dizzy!

Day 2:  Flat tire to start the day.  And in a river town, most places are closed on the weekends so the owners can enjoy the outdoors.  One place, luckily, was open and fixed our flat in just a few minutes for only $20.  Nice.  Then we headed for a hike, to the grocery store for food and down for naps followed by a hike around a mountain lake.

Day 3:  Best. Day. Ever.  We woke up early and hiked a trail to see a waterfall.  We do this hike every year, but this year we didn't have any kids who needed carried, or any who whined.  Shocking!  After the hike we went to a ghost town which I really think is better known for it's chipmunks that you can feed.  Good times.  We picnicked at another mountain lake, came back to the cabin to nap and then went to a nearby hot springs with a giant alpine slide.  Lots of fun! 

Day 4:  Sun burnt and tired.  We took the kids horseback riding at a favorite place of ours.  All four kids could ride this year with Isabella and Sam riding with Chris and I.  Sam was pretty scared by the horses at first and refused to ride with Chris, but once he was on the saddle with me he thoroughly enjoyed our horse "Squirt."  Another picnic in a park before heading back to the cabin.  
Day 5:  Still a bit sun burnt.  Took the kids to the tacky tourist shop for some hats because our eyes were pretty sensitive too.  We've never been to Colorado without any afternoon rain showers.  But it was gorgeous!  We hiked Cottonwood Pass and again no whiners and no kids needed carried!  I think they're finally getting old enough to enjoy hiking.  We got to play in snow too.  Another lovely picnic and back home for naps.  Good times.  Chris' parents came up that afternoon and we watched Chris and the girls tube down the stream in front of the cabin. 

Day 6:  Whitewater River Rafting (without the kids)!!!!  Need I say more.  It was amazing.  Chris and I hadn't rafted in at least 10 years probably so this was awesome.  The river was high.  Like 5x the normal level.  The rapids were huge, the sun was out, it was great.  Between rapids there was even a brief time where we were told someone could hop into the river...the guide pulling us back in before the rapid section.  Yours truly was the only one to take him up on the offer.  Awesome!!  But, not very graceful on the raft reentry.  That day Chris' brother and niece came out to visit and the afternoon showers dampened our playground picnic.   But the cabin time was fun.

Day 7:  Sore.  Very sore.  Rafting takes a lot of stomach, back, shoulder and arm strength....all weak areas for me.  The pain was worth it.  Chris, his brother and dad took a 6 mile hike (about 5+ hours long) while his mom and I took the 5 kids to the park, ate lunch and got down for naps.  While the guys were rained and hailed on and very tired when they got back, I still honestly believe watching all 5 kiddos was at least more mentally exhausting. 

Day 8:  Drive home.  While it's sad to leave beautiful Colorado it's also nice to come home feeling refreshed.  Though 7 loads of laundry later, I might have disagreed.  Colorado is such a great place for vacations.  Tons of free activities and a few amazing ones that cost make a good mix.  24/7 quality family time.  Perfect.  Until next year, I'll just have to live off of these memories.

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