Posts Tagged With: co

Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 2

Our second day at Rocky Mountain National Park was very different from the first day.  Day 2 was less crowded, but also very cold and instead of lakes we saw lots of snow.

We drove the scenic Trail Ridge Road and stopped at many of the viewpoints and some hiking trails along the way.


The higher up in elevation we got the colder it got.  They call this the tundra — I called it the frozen tundras. 🙂


We saw some elk and big horn sheep way off in the distance, but these cute marmots were the only wildlife we saw up close.  They were so cute and not even afraid of all the people around.



Playing in the snow in July!  It’s funny, our kids have seen more snow this summer in Colorado than they have seen in their entire lives!  As usual, we were not dressed appropriately for playing in the snow.  We always start out at a much warmer, lower elevation, and don’t realize just how cold it will be as we get higher. You’d think we would have learned by now.



We did the Alpine Ridge trail hike that was mostly walking up stairs.  It was a somewhat short hike, but it was really hard!  It’s amazing how out of breath we got up at 12,000 feet.  It made me feel really out of shape when I could hardly catch my breath, but then I read this sign which explains it.


The sign we’re standing next to is pretty faded, but it says we are at 12,000 feet.  That was at the top of the stairs.



It was 54 degrees up there with 40 mph winds.  It was so cold with the wind!  But how could we complain when pretty soon we had to head back to our campground where it was 100 degrees?




The views were so amazing up there, but it was time to head back home to the sweltering heat.  The boys also earned their Junior Ranger badges.  I think they now have 18 national park badges!


We stayed at St. Vrain State Park just north of Denver.  It was a nice park and we had a great site on the lake with a beautiful view.  You can even see the Rocky Mountains off in the distance.


Unfortunately it was close to 100 degrees most of the time we were there, so that wasn’t fun.  It’s not easy to keep an RV cool in that kind of heat.  At least the evenings and mornings were cool though.  We had some beautiful sunsets and as soon as the sun started to go down the temperature cooled down a lot!  Then we could go outside and play.





One evening a funny thing happened.  A family pulled up and parked at our campsite.  We were wondering why they were parking at our site.  They just wanted to fish at the lake in front of our site, but it’s still a little strange for someone to just park at our campsite.  Then later they wanted to use our grill to cook their dinner.  We didn’t mind because they were nice.  And Chris who is always so hospitable made them some of his “world famous” homemade french fries to go with their dinner.  They had some extra fishing poles and let the boys use them since the poles we used to have broke and we haven’t replaced them.  I’m not sure if I should mention this because of all the racial hatred going on right now, but just so you know, not everyone in this country is a racist.  This family was black or I guess I should say African-American if I’m being politically correct (which I’m usually not).  Regardless, we had a great time with them that night and really enjoyed their company.  I wish they would have come back again while we were staying there.  Their granddaughter was Jake’s age and she was so sweet!  She loved Chris’s french fries and would hardly let anyone else have any. 🙂  And she was very patient with me as she tried to teach me how to fish.  I wasn’t very good at it.


The best part about our week at St. Vrain was meeting up with another Fulltime Family there that we met a few weeks earlier at the rally in Montrose.  Jake and Jesse love playing with their son Dylan!  They played together for hours every day and they are really going to miss each other.  But I’m sure our paths will cross again at some point.


There is so much more to RMNP than we had time to see in just 2 days.  Just like most places we’ve been, we want to return again someday and explore some more.  There is just so much to see and do in this country and so little time!  Are you getting out and exploring the national parks?  This year is the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.  Perhaps that’s why the parks are so crowded this year?  I don’t know, but before we started traveling I had no idea what we were missing.  I hope that my posts will inspire some of you to get out there and explore these amazing places.

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Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 1

We spent 2 days at Rocky Mountain National Park, and since I took way too many pictures as usual I will split this up into 2 posts.

The first day we went to the most popular (and therefore the most crowded) section of the park — Bear Lake.  The parking lot at Bear Lake is typically full by 8:30am and since we were driving from our campground about an hour away, we didn’t make it that early.  The second option is to park in the Park and Ride lot and ride the shuttle.  We parked there and were lucky to get one of the last spots in that parking lot, and thankfully our truck fit in it!  Then we had to stand in a super long line to wait for the shuttle bus.  These bus lines make Disney bus lines look short!

Anyway, once we finally got to the Bear Lake trailhead, the crowds dispersed somewhat and we enjoyed some beautiful hikes.

We started off hiking to Nymph Lake and Dream Lake.


Nymph Lake


Dream Lake

One nice thing about a more crowded park is there are always people willing to take family pictures for you so the 4 of us could be in more pictures together.



Next we hiked the loop around Bear Lake which was stunning!


Bear Lake




Lastly we hiked to Alberta Falls.

These hikes were all amazing and it’s obvious why it seems to be the most popular and crowded section of the park.  If you come here and want to do these hikes, plan to arrive at the Park & Ride lot early (I think we got there about 9 or 9:30ish and the lot was just about full).  Another option is to go later in the afternoon if there is not a high chance of afternoon thunderstorms.  We returned to the parking lot after hiking at about 2:30 and there were plenty of parking spaces then and the bus line was not quite as long.

We spent the night at a hotel in Estes Park so we could visit that cute and charming town and be close to RMNP for another day of hiking the next day.

Estes Park is very crowded and touristy, but there is a really nice river walk behind all the shops and restaurants that is less crowded than walking down the main street.  We enjoyed walking along the river walk and having a yummy Mexican dinner at Ed’s Cantina.




Estes Park

Stay tuned for Day 2.


Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fulltime Families Rally in Colorado

We attended our 4th Fulltime Families (FtF) rally in Montrose, CO.  It was a total blast!  We met up with some families that we met at previous rallies and also some new families.  Some of our favorite memories on the road have been spent with other traveling families.


The rally was held at the Jellystone Park in Montrose, CO.  We went a few days earlier than the rally started which gave us some time to catch up with some other friends that got there a little early.  We went back to Ouray to visit Box Canyon Falls with the Lundy family.  The falls were really cool!  The water coming through the canyon is so powerful and loud!



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Soon enough more families started pulling into the campground and the rally officially began.


I can’t even explain just how much fun it is to be parked next to several other traveling families.  We hung out every evening for campfires and happy hours and talked until late into the night.  Meanwhile the kids were off and running from sunup until sundown (and beyond) having a blast playing with all the other kids.

One afternoon when it was raining outside, several kids ended up at our RV to play with play-doh. Or I should say “to make a mess” because you know that’s how it goes with play-doh! 😉


One of the planned activities was an obstacle course for the kids where they went to each “booth” for an activity to complete.  At this table the activity was to paint a mask because the theme of this rally was “Super Heroes”.


Jesse’s friend Dylan was showing him how to use the bow & arrow to shoot the colored soda bottles.


I love Olivia’s face in this one.  She is determined to hit that soda bottle!


After everyone completed the obstacle course, they all gathered around the Yogi Bear statue for a picture.


One of our favorite activities was the Super Hero Pet Parade.  We made a cape for Super Fat Cat to wear.  She was not happy about being paraded around the campground, but she really tolerated it well.  And she became famous!  After that everyone knew who Fat Cat was, and whenever people passed by our site they would say “hey, there’s Fat Cat!”


There were all kinds of pets in this parade including frogs and rats.

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And dogs of course!



And even stuffed animals!


Once the parade started, Fat Cat tried to fly away.  Too bad her cape didn’t have real super powers!



Strangely, the pool at this campground was closed for most of the time we were there (even though it was well past Memorial Day and the weather was in the 90s).  I say “strangely” because this is supposed to be a Jellystone Park, but it wasn’t like any other Jellystone we have been to.  They did not have nearly as many fun activities and amenities as most Jellystone Parks have, but we made up for that with our own FtF activities.  The pool finally opened a couple of days before we left so the kids wanted to make the most of it while they had the chance.



On Saturday night we had the Super Hero pizza dinner and dance party.  Clementine had a really cool costume!



Jennifer made us feel tall by making herself look short next to us. 🙂


Our last night around the campfire was really fun.  I think we stayed out so late because we knew we were leaving the next day and wanted to make the fun last as long as possible.


I miss these girls!


If you are a traveling family, I would highly recommend you find a Fulltime Families rally near you and go.  We have made the most amazing friendships and memories at these rallies!

One last silly picture of the super heroes. 🙂


Categories: Colorado, Fulltime RV'ing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Black Canyon National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in Montrose, Colorado.


The Gunnison River winds through the bottom of the canyon.



This park has many beautiful viewpoints and a few hiking trails.  We only spent a few hours there because it was a very hot day, but we managed to see some awesome views and hiked one trail.








And the boys earned new Junior Ranger badges.



We enjoyed our visit in spite of the heat, but I think it would be more fun to explore this park when the weather is a little cooler.


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Ridgway State Park

I hesitated to write this blog post because we loved this state park so much and we don’t want the secret to get out.  If that happens, this place may get overly crowded. 😉

Ridgway State Park is in Ridgway, CO and there are 3 campgrounds within the park.  We started out at the Pa Co Chu Puk campground (that’s a fun name to say!)  The sites in this section are full hookup and the site we had was very woodsy and secluded (which we like).  The only bad thing was it was so woodsy that all the trees at our site blocked our view of the Uncompahgre River (pronounced un-come-pah’-gray) which was just beyond the trees.  We could hear the noise of the rushing river very clearly though.  Here is Fat Cat lounging on the picnic table, and just beyond the trees is the river.


Speaking of Fat Cat I think this was her favorite site ever!  She became a professional hunter of chipmunks at this site.  She would hide in the long grass and pounce on every chipmunk that was unlucky enough to cross her path.  Whenever we saw her catch one we had to come to the poor chipmunk’s rescue and make her let it go.  Unfortunately we didn’t rescue one soon enough because she left the poor thing at our doorstep.  I think she thought she was leaving us a present!  She liked her hunting activities at this site so much that she woke us up at 5:00 every morning to go out.  She wanted to spend all day outside!  During the week I like to get up that early anyway to get an early start on work, but I did NOT appreciate her waking me up at 5am on the weekend!  We started shooting her with squirt bottles and a Buzz Lightyear nerf gun when she started her meowing in the morning. 🙂

This campground had some nice bike trails and views of the river.



And a nice playground for the kids.


I can’t say enough about how awesome the bike trails are at this park; especially because the views on the ride are amazing!  I have gone for many beautiful bike rides, but I think the rides I took at this park have been the most awesome.

The Enchanted Mesa trail goes from the Pa Co Chu Puk campground to the Dutch Charlie section of the park.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started on this trail.  Keep in mind I’m used to flat trails in Florida!  It started with a steep uphill climb with a 300 foot elevation gain with lots of switchbacks and steps.  I actually had to push my bike up this hill, and I literally thought I had taken the wrong path.  All 4 of us went back another evening to hike up this hill.


I was so tired and out of breath pushing my bike up this hill, and I almost turned around and attempted to go back down, but going back down looked rather intimidating so I kept on.  And I’m so glad I did!  Not only was I very close to the top when I almost turned around, but I was rewarded with the most incredible views from the top of the Enchanted Mesa.


This is the view looking down on the Ridgway Reservoir dam.


The water was such a beautiful turquoise blue.  My pictures as always just don’t do it justice.




The Enchanted Mesa trail ends at the marina at the section of the park called Dutch Charlie.  There is a marina, a swim beach, picnic areas and a really cool playground at this section.  There is also a visitor center, many other wonderful hiking and biking trails, and 2 more campgrounds.


After exploring the whole area on my bike, all 4 of us went back another day to check out everything on this side of the park.


Teepee on nature trail.


Scenic overlook near visitor center.

The boys liked the swim beach, but the water was still quite cold.  They didn’t stay in very long.


The swim beach has some nice picnic areas and grassy areas to just sit and relax.


The playground was one of the best playgrounds we’ve ever seen.  There was a huge, enclosed slide that went from the playground down to the swim beach.




These pictures are from the Enchanted Mesa again when all 4 of us hiked up there.  It looked like a thunderstorm was brewing in the distance so we didn’t spend very much time up there.



We only had a reservation for 1 week at this park, but our plans for the following week fell through.  Since we liked it there so much we asked about extending our stay.  We ended up moving to the Elk Ridge campground in the Dutch Charlie section where we had a huge and beautiful site with amazing views!




Fat Cat didn’t find as many chipmunks at this site, but she did like climbing the trees.


The Elk Ridge section only has electric hookups (no water or sewer).  We have stayed in campsites with no sewer before, but this was the first time that we tried a site with no water hookup.  This meant we had to fill up our fresh water tank before moving to that site.  There was a water spigot across from our site so Chris was able to stretch 2 hoses over to get more water when we ran out.  Now that we know how to camp with no water or sewer hookup, we are 1 step closer to boondocking.  We just need a generator to provide some electricity and we can try living off the grid sometime.

I went for another bike ride from here all the way to the town of Ridgway which was another beautiful ride.







I came across this really nice Eagle Memorial and Rock Garden along the bike trail.


I read this sign about all the stacks of “prayer stones” I saw throughout the garden.


So I decided to make my own pile of prayer stones and I said a prayer for a friend back home in Florida who I know just wants her son to be able to come home.  I also want to add prayers for all of those who have suffered tragedies in Florida this past week.  It was a sad week in my home state and my heart goes out to everyone affected by those events.


Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about this state park and campground.  The campsites were beautiful, the views were amazing and there was so many fun things to do there.  It’s also not a long drive into Ouray and Telluride which we visited from there.

Shh!  Don’t let anyone know how awesome this campground is.  I don’t want it to get too crowded. 😉




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A Return Visit to Telluride

It has now been almost 17 months since we ditched the suburbs to live in our RV and travel this beautiful country.  In that time we have not re-visited the same place until now.  I should clarify that is with the exception of Florida since going back there is like going home, not visiting a new place.  Anyway, we loved our visit to Telluride, CO so much last year that we decided to go back again this year while we were in the area.

It was like deja vu.  We did almost exactly all the same things as last year.  One of the fun things to do in Telluride is to ride the free gondola.  There is a very nice, spacious parking garage (where even our big truck can fit) up in Mountain Village.  Last year it was $7 to park there for the day, which seemed reasonable, but this year we were pleasantly surprised to find that the parking is now free!

From the parking garage you can access the start of the gondola ride into Telluride, and it is a beautiful ride.



The gondola takes you to the Mountain Village shops first.  Then you change to a different gondola that goes up the mountain where you can either get off and check out the scenic viewpoints, or continue on down into the town of Telluride.

The town of Telluride is so cute!  I could never get tired of this place.



Bear Creek Falls is a popular hike that you can access from the end of one of these roads.  It’s a 2.5 mile hike up to the falls and then of course, 2.5 miles back down.  The views hiking up are amazing!  When we were here in August last year there was no more snow on the mountains, but this year being earlier in the season, there was still a little snow left.






Once we made it up to the falls it started raining, just like last year.  Did I mention deja vu?


I would really like to make it up here sometime while the sun is still shining so my pictures aren’t so cloudy.




Once we got back down the trail, we were starving and went to the same Mexican restaurant we ate at last year, Esperanza’s.  We had the same waiter who sat us at the same table.  This repeating a day from last year was getting pretty funny.  If we had to repeat a day though, this was a good one because it really was one of my favorite places we went to last year.

After our late lunch/early dinner, we headed back to Mountain Village on the gondola again.  There are condos all over this area because it is a ski resort in the winter time.  I would love to come here to ski sometime!


More pictures from our return trip on the gondola.




And finally a few more pictures of this beautiful area.  I absolutely love this part of Colorado!  If I had to settle down and live in a house without wheels (which I don’t want to do), I think I could live somewhere in southwestern Colorado.  It is awesome!



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Ouray Hot Springs and Falls

Ouray (pronounced you-ray) is a super cute little town in southwest Colorado.  It is nicknamed the Switzerland of America and I can see why.


Ouray Hot Springs was so much fun!  The water is hot year round and we saw pictures of people there in the winter with snow all around while they were in the springs.  How cool is that!  There was still snow on the mountains when we were there, but it wasn’t cold outside anymore.


The boys loved playing on the obstacle course, but before they could do that they were required to pass a swimming test. We assumed this would be easy because they have been swimming since they were babies in our backyard pool.  It turns out it wasn’t quite so easy because they were required to swim with the correct breast stroke and back stroke techniques.  Since the only swimming lessons they ever had were Infant Survival Swimming lessons when they were babies, they have never learned these proper swimming strokes.  They are both really good swimmers but they just didn’t understand what was required.  The lifeguards were nice though and explained what was expected.


Jake passed the first time, but unfortunately Jesse didn’t.  He was pretty disappointed, so we went to the shallow pool and practiced.  I showed him what they were expecting and he picked it up quickly.  He re-took the test and passed!  Now they both could do the obstacle course.

Here are Chris and Jake running the race.



This is the other side of the obstacle course before they slide down into the water.


Jesse and Chris raced too.




And not to be left out, I wanted to get in on the fun too!


Jesse is winning of course!


Besides the obstacle course, there was a water slide that was really fun.



The hot springs was of course the highlight of our time in Ouray, but we also loved visiting this cute little town.  I bet this looks like a winter wonderland in the winter time.  Maybe that’s why they call it the Switzerland of America?




There is a very scenic drive called the Million Dollar highway just at the end of the town.


We only rode on it for a few miles because it was a scary drive.  I don’t have pictures, but when you get higher up, there are no guard rails and the road is narrow and curvy with a very long drop-off on the side of the road.  Chris was white-knuckling that for a little bit until we could find a place to turn around.  The views were amazing though!


We hiked to the Cascade Falls and on the way up we saw this cute little house that reminded me of something you might see in a fairy tale.





We had so much fun in Ouray.  It’s definitely on our growing list of places we would like to return to someday.

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Memorial Day in the Snow

Considering that we lived in Florida for 15 years before traveling, playing in the snow on Memorial Day was quite a novelty for us.  We spent the day at Grand Mesa National Forest which was absolutely beautiful.  We didn’t exactly dress appropriately for snow; we thought we would be hiking in the forest.  However, most of the hiking trails were covered in snow, and even several of the roads were still closed and covered in snow.  So we just enjoyed a most unusual (for us) Memorial Day playing in the snow.


On the way up to Grand Mesa we saw this interesting sight of cows in the road.  They didn’t seem to care that they were holding up traffic. 🙂


We had planned to go to a picnic area for lunch, but this is as far as we went in our truck up the road and then decided to turn around and find someplace else to eat.  That’s Jesse running up the hill.


We ended up at the parking lot at this lake and had a tailgate picnic.  It was quite chilly for us Floridians in shorts!


Then we walked down a short trail that brought us to a campground that was mostly under snow.  The boys loved throwing snowballs until their hands got too cold!


After that we hiked around some lakes as far as we could go.  The combination of snow and lakes was so beautiful!






After walking around the lakes for awhile we continued on the scenic byway through Grand Mesa and saw even more snow and some icy lakes.




When we got to the Visitor Center it looked like they had just plowed the parking lot.  The Visitor Center actually just opened that day for the season.



If we are ever back in this area in the summertime we’ll have to make a return visit to try some of the trails.  But we were certainly not disappointed to find all this snow.  It was a really fun day and the boys loved playing in it and throwing snowballs.  And considering it was quite hot down in Fruita where we were staying, this was a refreshing change.


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