Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rocky Mountain Park- CO

While staying in Estes Park, we took a day trip driving through Rocky Mountain National Park. It really was a lot of fun, what a week to go from temperatures in the 100's when we left Texas to snow in July. Wow!

While at the top, you see a wall of snow and a fantastic gift shop. Annie's highlight of the day trip. The children enjoyed some hot chocolate and a cookie while looking out at the elk high on the mountain.

When we started our trip up the mountain we passed an older gentleman riding his bicycle up the winding rode. We would pull off at a stopping point, take some pictures, get back on the road and pass this same man. This must have happened 4 or 5 times. It became a little funny to us. After we left the gift shop and started our decent to the other side of the mountain (where the moose are), we passed this same man coming to the gift shop. Impressive! Not sure I could do that ride now or ever! 

One of my favorite things on this trip is that I could see my children's love for photography start to blossom. Both children shared Ben's camera, and Annie even took some photos with my Nikon. Hoping they grow up to see the beauty in things as well!

We played a little game in the car (to keep the children entertained) where if you found an animal that we could take a picture of and it was the first time we saw the animal, then you received $1. A black bear pays $2, which we never saw. It is very important when you play this game that you have the rule of "being able to take a picture of the animal". You would be surprised at how many animals are "there" until you turn around to look. Some rare animals as well. Like elephants in the Rocky Mtns!

Max decided to take it to the next level, by pulling two loose teeth out so the tooth fairy would give him some money. The tooth fairy had a hard time finding our cabin, so she had to leave the money with the manager at the camp store. His face beamed when she gave him the tooth fairy money. It was sweet! He is highly motivated by $$, and we were returning to Jellystone where they have a great camp store which sells glow sticks. As you can see below, we saw a lot of animals and both children earned a couple of dollars to spend. 

Ben took most of the pics of the animals below. You should have seen him going out into the field to be one with the animals. Max went with him a couple of times, and he was more impressed with the size of scat that comes from an elk. Ben looked like he should be employed by National Geographic. It was hysterical! 

We had a great day and it was nice to return to Estes Park for one last night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Heart Faces Challenge- Water

I would like to introduce Shark Boy! Ta-Dah! Too bad you can't see the fin hands and feet on this child. Max loves this set and he chooses to wear it often. This boy loves to swim and the name is fitting! He loves to terrorize his sister with this head gear.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich & Apple Pie

I saw this recipe pop up from Paula Deen on Facebook this morning, and I thought that it sounded great with it being so hot outside. Here is her recipe with ingredients for Shrimp Salad Sandwich.

1. You will need at least 1 lb. of peeled and deveined shrimp. I like to call them divine shrimp.

2. Take off the tail and put them in the blender.

3. What do you get? Mush! Shrimp Mush.

4. Add hard boil eggs to the mixture. I used 5 for our family.

5. Add minced celery.

6. Add 1/2 Cup of Mayo.
Shrimp Mush Awaits. I added a couple of tablespoons of Sewell's Seasoning, which I use to make the best guacamole ever. This was the only seasoning I added to this mush. I chilled ours while I prepared our side item and toasted our buns.

July 4th in Estes Park, CO

We received great recommendations from our camp director at Jellystone Park on where the best place to see the fireworks over Estes Park, CO. We parked on the side of the highway leaving town so we could make a quick get-a-way when the show was over. I held our spot on a small hill starting around 6 PM, while Ben took the children to a park approx. 1/2 mile away to play until 8PM. I met a lot of really neat families. Such nice people. They brought extra sparklers and small-time fireworks for all of the children on this hilltop, which they did not know. It was such a nice sense of generosity and citizen bonding time. Go Independence Day! Ben and I have never been out of the state of Texas for the July 4th celebration before. I have to admit that I was a little sad, but this experience was so nice that it added a new July 4th memory. It was so nice to watch fireworks and need a blanket. Usually we are hot, sweaty, and possibly fighting off bugs. I would take this view and experience over that~ I will say there were some huge mosquitoes, but they were gone when it cooled off around 8: 30 PM.
My heart was full of love when I saw this elderly couple park join the gang on the hill. The lady was too feeble to walk up the hill, so the husband carried her while a stranger grabbed the chairs and set them up. Honestly, a tear started to form. I was so impressed by this couple for still getting out and driving to see fireworks. I haven't had my grandparents both alive on either side in a really long time. It made me think of how my grandparents would respond on this holiday if either grandfather was still alive. Beautiful moment! And, I had to capture it from behind without them knowing about it.
This last photo was taken from our cabin on 7-3-11. The camp director had mentioned that there was a stream of lights coming out of Estes Park into the mountains after the fireworks. We sat out on our front porch of Cindy cabin #3 that night and watched the children play. We happened to notice the amount of cars coming out of town and decided to take a shot lowering the shutter speed. We ended up with this beautiful photo. I love sharing the joy of vacations and photography with my husband. What a great Independence Day weekend! Memories that will last a lifetime!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fabulous Friday- Pueblo, CO

Jellystone Park- Estes Park, CO

This was a definite highlight to our trip. We spent three days in our little cabin in the Rocky Mountains. There are a lot of different locations for Jellystone Parks. I was really impressed with how much they have on the calendar for families. We weren't able to participate in a lot of the activities due to other plans. We had a great time and we stayed at Cindy Cabin 3, which was right by the playground. It was really nice to be able to sit out on the front porch and watch the children play. The Cindy cabins are nice because they have bedding, towels, and kitchen items. SO, you can save some money by cooking in your tent. Loved not sharing the campsite restroom facilities (that would be the only child in me). I lived the college dorm life for 2 years, and that was enough sharing of that kind of stuff!
Each morning at 10:00 AM Yogi comes out to greet the children and raise the flag. After the flag is raised, they do the Yogi Pokie dance (also known to some as the Hokie Pokie). There is nothing like seeing Yogi sticking his bottom in, out, and shaking it all about. It's the icing on the cake to staying at Jellystone Park.
There is an ice cream man that comes in the afternoon and drives all through the park. 
One of the activities is getting a Yogi Tattoo. And, if you would prefer, you could have Boo Boo or Cindy Bear instead.
The best part of the playground is the tire swing. You can see our cabin in the background on a couple of these photos. So fun to watch and play. Max & Annie met so many children, and they all knew their names by the 1st day (not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing). They were also quite surprised to see parents hiding on the porch giving directives to two children that didn't look like the parents. Quite fun (from the parent's perspective). There is always this look of... "who is that lady? and, why is she telling my friend Annie what to do? she doesn't look like her...I wonder if I should be worried?". Then Annie yells with her Texas accent "Alright mama", and then the other children are really confused. She even brought some of her friends up to the cabin to meet me. She made sure to tell them that I am beautiful b/c that is what her daddy says. Love that sweet little girl of mine!
It was really hard to say good bye to this place. The children definitely want to return. Fun was had by all! See you soon, Yogi Bear!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fabulous Friday

Seven Falls- Colorado Springs, CO

We had a long day of driving planned, and so we decided to break up the day with a stop at Seven Falls. There are so many great things to do in Colorado Springs, and we knew we would be returning. If you are only traveling through Colorado Springs one time on your trip, make sure you see Garden of the Gods and Cave of the Winds. Those were great stops as well!

I would recommend arriving early. The place opens at 8:30. When we arrived, we had to wait approx. 15 minutes to obtain a parking place. By 11:00 AM, the parking lot was full and the wait was over 1 hour. They will give you a pass with a specific parking spot to use. Once you have parked, you have the option of climbing 185 steps to the top (I think not!) or ride the elevator.

There are different points of interest at this park. There are fish to feed (bring some quarters for the food). There are chipmunks to not feed. These chipmunks have definitely learned how to obtain food. Lots of gift shops, which will provide a stamp and a story to your child sharing information about the habitat in the area. Not to mention the cute chipmunk finger-puppets you can buy at the gift store. Love me so finger puppets! Blueberry taffy tasting. Small cafe to eat lunch or grab a drink. Native American's sharing stories and dance. And an additional climb & trails to hike at the highest peak of the Falls.

The drive into the falls shows one rock formation in the shape of a president's head. See the middle picture below and see if you can name that president. (answer below)

If you guessed George Washington, you were correct. Woohoo!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Zapata Falls- Colorado

On the way to the Sand Dunes, you will see an exit to visit Zapata Falls. I would recommend visiting this place after you have experienced the dunes. The refreshing and chilly waters will be a nice break from the heat & sand. It is free to visit this place. The climb walk to the falls is described as moderate. I would say if you are not used to the elevation and unfit, I would describe as challenging. It is pretty much all uphill. However, it is well worth the huffing and puffing.

Once you make it to the top, you can go even further to walk around the lake. This is not something we did, though. I would also recommend wearing shoes you don't mind getting wet if you plan to walk into the waterfall. It is beautiful, and you can't really see the waterfall unless you climb over some rocks. What you won't see on this blog is the part of the vacation my son calls his "favorite moment". This is where his mama starts to step on slippery log as she ascends to the next level of the falls about 3 feet above the previous level. Then graceful mama falls backwards down to the lower level as the crowd around her screams in fear for her life. However, mama was more worried about her Nikon floating in the falls. Thankfully, the charming prince named "papa" comes to rescue mama, and they live happily ever after (with a bruise and a cut on the arm from a stupid rock).

Inside the falls, you will see beautiful flowers climbing the rock walls. I was so excited this little hummingbird was willing to fly so close to me and pose. Too bad it was from the backside. Still very beautiful!

Fabulous Friday Challenge- Sand Dunes