The Drive Back: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado

On the road again!

After a glorious farm wedding on July 3rd, we were back in the car on the 4th to start our trip home!

As you can see from that first photo, most of us were unhappy about this …

Actually, Chris and I went back and forth quite a bit about extending our trip. We had booked refundable places to stay on the trip back, exactly for this reason. Ultimately, though, we decided to keep things as they were. We had jobs and summer camp and track practice and a home to get back to, as much as we would have liked to have stayed for longer.

It was Em’s first Fourth of July, and she spent it in the car! She didn’t seem to mind πŸ˜‰

The Long Road Home

Rather than driving straight through β€” like we did on the way out β€” we planned for three stops on the way back home. We stopped at a Comfort Suites in DuBois, PA, an Airbnb in Vandalia, Ohio and a Sleep Inn in Oakley, Kansas. We would also be making some touristy stops throughout, to break the trip up even more.

After saying goodbye to our family (we hope to see you soon!), it was a “short” four-hour trip to our hotel in Pennsylvania. Even though we arrived late, a super-wired Grace caught some fireworks at the end of the night with Chris. The next day we took advantage of the awesome indoor pool and grabbed some breakfast before heading out.

One of my favorite photos from the trip was taken at a gas station on our way to a hotel … go figure.
This random pic at another quick rest stop was another gem <3
We love hotels! (And are also very excited to be out of the car!)
I mean, look at this awesome pool!
So fun!
Naturally, I enjoyed from afar πŸ˜‰
Fun with luggage trolleys.

After pool time and breakfast in PA, we loaded up the car again and headed to our next stop β€” a playground/picnic and then a splash pad, both in Ohio.

This playground in Ohio was so cute, and totally empty!
We only stayed here for a quick run-around and to have a picnic, but Emilia approved.
We drove about an hour from the playground to this random splash pad in Ohio. It was on the smaller side, but on a 90+-degree day, it definitely got the job done!
Splash pads and playgrounds really take it out of ya!
And we were off … again!
Thanks Ohio … we’ll see ya later!

World’s Biggest Things β€” The Stop We Never Knew We Needed

The rest of the trip β€” about four hours β€” to our Airbnb in Vandalia β€” was a bit rough, if I’m being honest. We were all pretty over the car, somehow both tired and wired, at the same time. Luckily, about an hour outside of Vandalia, we saw a sign for some of the Big Things in the Small Town of Casey, Illinois, and made the split-second decision to pull over.

Man, oh man am I glad we did … because how much fun are these?!

Who knew big things could be so much fun?!
It was late, and starting to get dark, so we couldn’t see everything, but what we did see was so. much. fun!
World’s biggest rocking chair! (Allegedly …)
This is the world’s biggest wind chime!
Next was the world’s biggest golf tee!
Then onto the world’s biggest mouse trap?! I don’t know, but we loved it all!
What would it be like to write with the world’s biggest pencil?
I don’t think this was part of the actual attractions, but at this point in our trip I sure didn’t mind seeing my kids contained somewhere I wasn’t πŸ˜‰
Checking out the world’s biggest mailbox!
There was a fountain behind the mailbox where you could throw in coins and make wishes. Bet you could guess what my wish was! (Hint: Getting to our next destination quietly was involved …)
Such an adorable town, and definitely worth a stop on your way by it!

Coffee, Dragons and Arches

After our pit stop in Casey, we still had a couple hours to our Airbnb in Vandalia, but luckily the stop did what it was meant to do β€” wear the kids out! They all fell asleep on the ride to Vandalia and, luckily, this Airbnb was glorious. Three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a fully stocked kitchen with drinks and snacks. It was exactly what we all needed after a full day of travel.

This cutest little drive-through coffee shop β€” Shimoji Coffee β€” on the way out of Vandalia was so lovely!
The Kaskaskia Dragon is easy to visit on your way out of Vandalia! You can grab some coins at the store across the street to make him actually breathe fire!
About an hour later, we were at The Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Chris and I visited the Arch on our drive out to Denver from New York when we moved here, but it has since gotten an upgrade to National Park status. The museum is amazing now, and the grounds have even gotten an upgrade. It’s definitely worth revisiting if you haven’t been back in a while!
The museum is so much fun!
There are a lot of fun things for kids to do and see, too.

After our Arch pit stop, it was back in the car for a few hours, until we stopped for gas and went for a quick detour for treats at the Ozarkland General Store

One of each, please!
After Ozarkland it was on to Topeka, Kansas, where we stopped for dinner at The Pennant. This restaurant was perfect, because it had games and bowling and plenty of run-around space for the girls. Plus, it was right downtown, which was fun to check out!

Downtown Topeka, Kansas fun!

After dinner we had a couple hours to our hotel in Oakley. We picked that particular hotel because it was just a few hours from there to our home in Colorado, and we needed to leave early Wednesday to get back.

Grace, exhibiting perfectly how we all felt waking up early on Wednesday to head home after our whirlwind trip.

And that, as they say, was that, friends! After countless miles, five hotels/Airbnbs and 11 states, we were back where we started! Being home felt lovely and completely odd, all at once. We are so grateful that we were able to have this experience, to see our people and to check out so much of the U.S.

At the end of the day, we wouldn’t have done anything differently … except maybe pay more attention to the rules of Dramamine earlier on in the trip. Sorry, Grace!

The Details

Here’s a quick look at all the places we stayed, visited and ate at during this leg of our trip:

The Finances

Now for the super fun part … the money! We likely would have spent less money on this trip had we flown, even factoring in the cost of the flights. Gas is incredibly expensive right now, which was one factor. We also decided ahead of time that we didn’t want to scrimp on this trip. After not traveling for more than a year, we wanted to stop where we wanted to stop, eat what we wanted to eat, and stay where we wanted to stay.

And it worked out because, like I said, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Here’s how our finances broke down. We spent:

  • Hotels: $1581
  • Gas/Tolls/Parking: $770
  • Food/Groceries/Entertainment: $1112
  • Miscellaneous: $250

The grand total on this trip was almost $4,000 which, of course, is a lot of cash. Considering everything we did, though β€” including places stayed, food ate, things visited β€” for five people, it really wasn’t all that bad.

Plus, as the kids say, YOLO, my friends … YOLO.

And that was our trip! I hope each and every one of you β€” who has made it this far in this post! β€” has something equally as adventurous and amazing planned for the summer. Until next time, friends … bis bald!

Our Road Trip Continued: The Pennsylvania and Upstate New York Edition

Paddle boats on the lake behind our Airbnb in Pennsylvania were definitely a perk.

Welcome back, friends! After our delightful stay in Brigantine, we were ready to hit up our next destination β€” an Airbnb attached to Billy’s New Hope Barn in Honesdale, PA.

I should start by saying that the ride out to the farm was less than optimal. (Think lots of things going wrong, including traffic and car sickness … it wasn’t our best ride …) So by the time we arrived, we had all about had it. The farm itself was very sweet, with lots of rescued animals for the girls to fawn over and fall in love with. I, however, was ready for a delightfully decadent shower, or perhaps even a lovely bath.

That wasn’t going to happen here.

Staying on the farm is a unique (and ultimately worthwhile) experience, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. I’d liken this stay to “glamping,” since there was a roof over our heads and running water, but it wasn’t fancy by any means (nor is it advertised as such … that’s just what I was hoping for at that particular moment in my life.)

Once we started to get over the effects of our gross ride, things got better. It was actually very sweet to see the girls react to the animals, to eat a picnic dinner on the table by the lake, to watch the fireflies outside next to a campfire and to fall asleep to the sound of bullfrogs, and all the other nature surrounding us.

The farm is right next to the cabins on the property, so we walked over pretty much as soon as we arrived.
After this trip Grace won’t stop asking for a cat, while Lotte has her heart set on a dog. Either way, I’m not ready for a new pet, so here’s hoping they forget soon!
I do love a cute barn scene.
There are a ton of animals on the farm that are being rehabilitated from less-than-optimal settings. The girls loved being able to feed and pet them all.
Too cute.
This was the view right outside our cabin, and the girls couldn’t wait to get out on the water with Chris the next day!
That quiet life.
Taking it all in.
I made Chris stay near the cabin on his run that night (hah!), but this view wasn’t too shabby!
Like I said, the girls were ready to go the next morning!

In all honesty, we decided to stop off in Pennsylvania β€” and in this area in particular β€” because my sister and I are considering getting a lake house together and we’re scouting spots. We love the idea of getting a place together where our kids can grow up and visit throughout the year. Living far away from family is hard, but if we had a place like that β€” and a trip like that β€” to look forward to every year, it might be just a little bit easier.

After our one-night stay in the cabins, we decided to check out Hawley, PA and the cute zoo β€” Claws “N” Paws Wild Animal Park β€” in the area. We only got to spend a couple hours in Hawley, but I can tell it’s a very cute area, so we definitely plan to be back!

Livin’ her best life, always!
Lotte was thrilled they had lions, as they are her favorite animal πŸ˜‰
These cuties <3
So much to explore!

After the zoo, we were finally on our way to upstate New York, where we would be spending the rest of our trip. That included a stay at Grandpa Robert’s in Newburgh, one night at my sister’s in Middletown and one night at my aunt and uncle’s in Goshen. My aunt and uncle were kind enough to watch the girls for us while we attended a wedding, and we were forever grateful!

I’ll post separately about the wedding β€” because the beauty of it deserves a post all its own β€” but for now, here’s a bit of what we got up to in New York …

No visit to New York is complete without a stop in Equilibrium, Chris’s favorite brewery.
Our stay with Grandpa Robert was delightfully chill, filled with barbecues and walks with Ranger.
It was love at first sight for Emilia … not so much for Ranger!
Me and my girl <3
Grace and Ranger, on the other hand, had a love affair going on!
Our last morning before leaving Grandpa’s.
The girls had THE BEST time at my Aunt and Uncle’s!
It was so sweet seeing them together, especially with Em, who they were meeting for the first time!
Seeing Em with my sister for the first time on this trip was pretty special, too <3
Cousin love.
These photos were actually taken on the night Chris and I went to the wedding and my aunt and uncle watched the girls. I mean … look at that face!
My aunt and uncle planned such a fun night for the girls β€” including cooking and campouts! β€” and we were so grateful.
Taking fabulous care of our kids AND making homemade scones for us the next day? I mean … why did we ever leave?!

We always have the best time when we head back to New York, but it’s usually really hard to fit in seeing everyone who we want to see. Even though this was a quick trip, we got lucky and were able to cram a whole heck of a lot of visiting in. I am so grateful for all the memories we made with so many people we love. This was one amazing trip that we won’t soon forget.

The Details

Most of this portion of our trip included stays with family, but we did visit a few noteworthy places:

I’ll be back tomorrow with one of the most beautiful weddings we’ve been to. Until then … bis bald, friends!

1,834 Miles & 8 States: From Colorado to Brigantine, New Jersey

It was pure joy for all of us when we finally arrived in Brigantine after our overnight drive!

Happy Friday, friends! The photo above was taken the morning after we arrived in Brigantine, which was around 2 in the morning. Despite that early morning entry, someone (aka Lotte) was up and at ’em on Saturday morning, ready to start her vacay! I was totally here for that, so we hopped in the car and headed to get some Brigantine Bagels for the family while we waited for everyone else to wake up and for Steph & Brian & Rosalie to arrive … but I digress.

First …. we drove across eight states to get there!

We picked the girls up from summer camp around 1 MT and hit the open road!

We really wanted the girls to get one more day of summer camp in, and for Chris to work one more day, before we left for our trip. So we decided to leave right after picking them up on Thursday, around 1 pm MT. They were so excited when we got them, and totally ready (although possibly completely unaware of what it would really entail!) for the ride! We decided to head out via Nebraska, so we could add that state to our list, and to head back the same way we came when we drove out back in 2015 when we first moved here.

Driving overnight was a conscious decision we made to get to our destination more quickly (and to save on hotels), but we knew we’d be exhausted driving home, so we planned to break the trip up into three nights on the way back. Now, having completed the trip, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Driving through the night was hard at times, but the adrenaline really kicked in (for me, at least, the Red Bull kicked in for Chris), and it wasn’t as bad as you might imagine.

The Nebraska/Colorado state line

We were super excited for the girls to tick a bunch of states off their list as well, but unfortunately most of the state line signs were directly on highways, where it wasn’t safe to stop. We did get this doozy of a photo as we entered Nebraska, though ….

Such road trip newbies, just entering Nebraska from Colorado!

We also stopped in Nebraska for an extended period, since we found an amazing park that had multiple playgrounds, wild animals, a train museum, some amusement parks and fountains and so much more. If you ever find yourself on a cross-country trip with kids that includes Nebraska, I can’t recommend Cody Park in North Platte enough!

Fun animals in Cody Park
Cute playground equipment for all ages!
Lots of room to run!
The objective was basically to tire these kids out at all costs!
This felt particularly appropriate, considering our trip was over the July Fourth holiday.
Emilia was seriously a rockstar on this trip! She definitely enjoyed the moments when she was out of her carseat, though πŸ˜‰
Always exploring.
Success!

Although it was a restless night for the older girls, they did manage to sleep most of the night (thank you, Benadryl, I have no shame in my game!), which I was forever grateful for. Emilia actually slept through the entire night for the first time ever! Maybe I should have her sleep in the car every night?

After Cody Park, it was a straight drive β€” with stops for gas β€” throughout the night, until we reached Chicago around 6 in the morning. We weren’t going to stop at first because it was raining, but we thought the girls could use a stretch, and I’m so glad we did! Visiting The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park was one of my favorite memories from the trip. Plus, because we were so early, we were one of only a handful of people there.

Heading into Millennium Park which, by the way, doesn’t open until 8 a.m. Good to keep that in mind if you’re planning a visit!
We had to wait a couple minutes before we could get in, but this artwork installation nearby kept the girls occupied!
Such a fun place to visit with kids!
So cool, even in the drizzle!
We are all looking a bit rough after our night in the car! My little travelers, I love them so much <3
All the angles …
Pure delight … mostly at being out of the car!
.Chicago is such a beautiful city to visit, even if only for an hour!
Did I ask them to point to The Bean? Obviously πŸ˜‰ My girls have gotten very good at following photo directions.
The cutest little Chicago tourist!
Puddle jumping … why not?!
Farewell, Chicago … until we meet again!

The last time I was in Chicago β€” for Chris to run the marathon β€” I didn’t get a chance to visit Millennium Park or The Bean, so it felt super special to go back with our kids.

After Chicago we pretty much bolted to Brigantine, with a couple of stops in between for gas and to get some wiggles out. It was an epic trip, and I only would have wanted to make it with these amazing people.

A couple things I learned along the way:

  • Dramamine only works when you administer it correctly … poor Grace!
  • The Office Ladies podcast is amazing to listen to on a forever road trip.
  • Keep an extra trash bag or two around, you will definitely need it!
  • Be up for anything and game for plan changes if you do this kind of trip with kids … it’s the only way to get out alive πŸ˜‰

And that’s it, friends! I’ll be back next week with the first leg of our actual vacation … Brigantine Beach with family we’ve missed oh-so-much! Bis bald, friends!

We’re Back! Our Cross-Country Trip With a 4-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old and 6-Month-Old Was a Success!

We missed the actual state line when driving back, but took this cute photo at the visitor’s center … it’s one of my favorites from the trip!

We’re back, friends! It will take me a few days to get back on track here, to catch up with some work stuff and to get all the photos I want to include uploaded and edited and what-have-you, but a few highlights to look forward to in the coming days include ….

  • We saw SO MANY family members we’ve missed over the past 1.5 years!
  • Our kids were ROCKSTARS! I mean, don’t get me wrong, we all had moments! Like, lots of moments! But honestly, we had a great time on this huge car trip, and we’re pretty sure the kids did, too!
  • I feel like a superhero for having done this (and Chris feels the same!), so now we’re all … hmmm, what else can we do that’s crazy and fun?!
  • I will share all the financials of this trip which, despite being flight-free, probably ended up being more expensive than had we actually decided to fly! (Gas is expensive right now, peeps!)

I hope you guys all had great Fourth of July holidays, and I can’t wait to hop back on here soon with all the updates! For now … bis bald!

The Long Road Ahead …

Happiness is Grace at a splash pad!

Welcome to Friday, friends! This week felt … long! As I mentioned in this post about returning to normal, the more things we tack on to our calendar, the more time just flies by. Seriously. End of June, where did you come from? Summer? What happened to Spring?! But I digress.

Drinks and dinner at a new-to-me restaurant β€” American Elm, in Denver β€” with a friend earlier this week felt surprisingly normal and refreshingly wonderful.

The biggest thing we have coming up β€” other than Father’s Day this weekend … happy early Dad’s Day to all your wonder fathers and father-figures out there! β€” is our road trip out east, which commences next Thursday. I will be using this weekend to do all. the. things. That includes making approximately 1,000 lists and ticking each and every thing off methodically as I go along. Any other list-makers out there? It’s the only way I can seem to get everything done these days! (This Smarter Travel packing list is a good place to start …) I’ll head back over here soon to list out our actual plan for the trip β€” kid-friendly (hopefully!) stops we’ll be making on the way out and back, what we actually packed, etc. β€” but for now I wanted to hop on and say happy Friday/happy weekend/happy Father’s Day/happy Summer/and happy Juneteenth! However and whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope you make it a great one.

Last weekend we tried out Westminster Center Park β€” also referred to as Peter Pan Park β€” for its playground area and splashpad. Even though the splashpad was smaller than we were expecting, the girls had THE BEST time, and the playground β€” modeled after the movie Peter Pan β€” was so adorable!
Em enjoyed it, too!
That itty, bitty face … gets me every time <3
It’s been 90+ degrees here all week, which has meant lots of backyard, blow-up pool time for us!
Chris planted two rose bushes the other weekend β€” one for my Grandma and one for my mom β€” and they are starting to bloom.
Somewhere along the way, this little one turned six months old.
It was Dads and Donuts morning at Lotte & G’s summer camp this morning … no better way to celebrate, if you ask me!

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the (Travel) Saddle, Again

Oh hi there, friends … remember me?! If you don’t, I am not offended. My last post on this website was September 1, 2020, but even then, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to report. Sure, the past year has been pretty busy β€” we had a baby, Chris started a new job and became a U.S. citizen (he has dual Australia/U.S. citizenship now … wahoo!), we both tried to hold on to some semblance of our careers while watching two children from home full-time. However, because of the pandemic, there was also a heck of a lot of nothing that happened. My trip back to New York with Lotte in February of 2020 was my last flight, and Chris’s trip back to Australia in February was his. Those were the last times that we saw our family, as well. If only we could have known what was coming … am I right?

Anyway, it’s been a rough 12+ months for everyone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my friends. Although Chris and I haven’t been able to get vaccinated yet, just knowing it’s right around the corner β€” and seeing the numbers drop from the people who have been vaccinated already β€” is such a joy. So, with all of that in mind, Chris and I decided to pack up the car with our brand new family of five, and to head out on a vacation that was as safe as it could possibly be. Rather than taking a super-long car ride, we opted to head into the mountains, to one of the spots that we’ve loved in the past: Granby Ranch. We stayed at a little Airbnb in the Blue Sky Trail area, which was the perfect location for skiing (the older two girls got their first lessons!), as well as quickly getting to a beautiful hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and checking out the most adorable Grand Lake area, which had the cutest little town and, as you might have guessed, a very grand lake πŸ˜‰ The lake was frozen, so we were able to walk out on it, which I think the girls found to be pretty fun.

Grace is never happier than when she’s running into wide, open spaces!

Before I get into the fun parts of the trip, and the amazing pictures (because, Colorado), let me just say … Chris and I were pretty surprised at the level of difficulty this trip reached. We’ve traveled with a 3-year-old before, but every 3-year-old is different and, if I can just say, our current 3-year-old can be quite sassy, to put it delicately. When we were out and about exploring, everything was pretty great for the most part, but when we were back in the cabin, things tended to get a bit hairy. To be fair, thanks to the pandemic, Grace probably doesn’t even remember the trips that she has been on in the past, so she’s not used to being on an extended adventure. I was looking back at pictures of her last trip, and wow she was so little! Chris and I kept reminding ourselves that this, right now, with a 4.5 and 3-year-old and a six-month-old, will likely be the hardest it’ll be for us in terms of traveling. At the end of the day, the minute you get home, the stressful moments tend to either fade away or become funny memories, so it’s almost always worth it, or at least it has been so far, in our experience.

What about you guys? Any other readers out there traveling with littles? Care to share any tips and tricks to make it magically easier?!

While I wait for that advice to roll in, here’s a look at our trip in pictures ….

Lotte, Emilia and Grace, ready to hit the road!
Chris, Lotte and Grace, adventuring out on the lake.
Okay, so maybe we didn’t actually make this snowman – hah! But we did enjoy posing with him!
Just a couple of ladies on the ice … cue the Frozen soundtrack πŸ˜‰
We wrangled the kids to take a quick selfie when we got out on the lake in Grand Lake.
Grace might seem uninterested, but I’m happy to have gotten this shot of the three of us in front of the lake.
Lotte, Grace & Emilia cuddled up on our couch in the cabin.
We stopped for lunch at the top of our hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The terrain was icy in spots, but I’m glad we stuck with it!
Anyone else have a trick to get a sassy 3-year-old to smile for pictures?!
We were honestly very impressed with both of the big girls on this hike … they took it like champs! Lotte even walked the whole thing β€” about a mile β€” by herself.
This gorgeous view was a short but steep hike about three minutes from our cabin in Granby Ranch.
It was windy and freezing at the top of the hill, but we just had to stop for a quick family selfie!
Lotte and Grace had their first ski lessons on this trip, and I was honestly so proud of both of them! Lotte especially loved it, and I think Grace will come to love it more with time, as well.
They look a little weathered here because this was after their lessons … but I HAD to get a pic of the two of them with their adorable little set of skis!
If we offer the girls hot chocolate after every ski lessons, I’m pretty sure they’ll always be happy to oblige πŸ˜‰

And that, my friends, was our little trip in a nutshell. We packed a lot in, while still trying to be as socially distanced and as safe as we could. I’m glad that we were able to get away, for however short of an amount of time. We were all so happy to be back home, even though we’ve spent pretty much every day here for the past year, which was a nice feeling. Now, with some more trips planned for the summer, it’s starting to feel like things are getting back to normal, and we are HERE. FOR. THAT. Hope you guys are all finding some moments of happiness amidst this craziness and, until next time … BIS BALD!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Driving to the Top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak

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Welp, friends, this past weekend consisted of ticking things off the bucket list from left to right and every way sidewise. It was our annual birthday trip getaway for my birthday (if you’ll recall, we’ve made something of a tradition of heading out of town for both my and Chris’ birthdays. Last year was Great Sand Dunes National Park for Chris and Telluride for me), and we headed into the mountains β€” to Woodland Park, to be exact.

Woodland Park is charming in its own right, but really, the main attraction for people coming to this particular area is the drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s (in)famous “14ers,” meaning a mountain whose summit is higher than 14,000 feet. This particular mountain reaches 14,115 feet … and I had no particular interest in heading there.

Until, of course, Chris mentioned it as a potential spot for my birthday weekend getaway.

Continue reading “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Driving to the Top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak”

2018: A Year in Review

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Well friends, somehow β€” and I’m really not sure how β€” this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.

So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….

Continue reading “2018: A Year in Review”

A Birthday, Easter & End of Maternity Leave Celebration in Telluride

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Happy Monday/Easter/April/My Birthday, friends! Wowza it was a busy weekend, huh? On top of all of that, today, my birthday, is my last day of maternity leave.

I don’t want to talk about that, though :/

To celebrate, Chris & the girls and I packed up the car and headed about six hours southwest to Telluride, CO. It’s a place Chris and I have been wanting to check out since we moved here (you’ll see why in the photos below), and we figured what better way to celebrate all of the above (not to mention Grace’s first big trip!) with a tick off our bucket list?

So that’s what we did! We all loaded into the car and left the house around 9 a.m. on Thursday, on the way to our destination – this amazing little apartment in downtown Telluride. A note about our place: it was really awesome. The price was unbelievable for the location, and even though it was a railroad setup (meaning we had to walk through our bedroom and what turned out to be Grace’s bedroom to get to the living room/kitchen), it worked well for us. Plus the amazing window seat looking out onto the river made for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities (not to mention heart palpitations, since the windows opened all the way up and there were no screens), and you know I love me a good photo opportunity πŸ˜‰

Anyway, on this trip we took some amazing walks, rode the gondola to Mountain Village, checked out the library (which is a must-visit for anyone who has kids, in my opinion), had a picnic, helped Lotte participate in an Easter egg hunt on the mountain (sort of. we were late and the eggs were all scooped up by the time we got there, but two awesome people who worked there hid some for her anyway), and just soaked up all the family time we possibly could. Lotte was teething something fierce on this trip, and she had a cold and we think maybe the altitude was bothering her, but she took it all in stride. (Other than waking up around 4 a.m. every. single. night. See one of my photos below for a favorite memory of mine from the trip, all thanks to Lotte’s inability to sleep.)

Here’s some of what we got up to!

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^^ These two never cease to amaze me. Like I mentioned before, it was more than six hours to our destination, and despite the long ride, they were both pretty amazing throughout the majority of it.

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^^ See what I mean about the window? How amazing is that view?! It was definitely Lotte’s favorite spot in the whole place.

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^^ Oh gorgeous Telluride – you really were spectacular.

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^^ Picnicing amongst the mountains … is there anything better? (Besides picnicing withΒ cookies amongst the mountains, that is!)

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^^ As I mentioned, the library in Telluride is beyond amazing for kids. The kids’ section is humongous, with tons of toys and activities, and I think Lotte would have been happy to hang there all day.

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^^ Tuckered out from her first day in Telluride πŸ˜‰

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^^ And here is the moment I mentioned earlier β€” my favorite memory of the trip. After struggling through the night with teeth that ached and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, my little boo woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday and was, obviously, exhausted and frustrated and in pain. It took a bit of coaxing, but eventually I got her to lay down next to me on the window seat, where we promptly both fell asleep for about an hour and Chris snapped a shot. Oh man, how I love these kids. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mom.

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^^ On Saturday we hit up the gondola (G’s first gondola ride!) to check out Mountain Village, where we had lunch and took in the spectacular views. Bringing this easy-fold mini-strollerΒ and the Beast was a stroke of genius courtesy of my husband. The Beast was essential for most of our mountain/trail walking, but on the paved paths in Mountain Village (and for riding on the gondola), this tiny, compact stroller (coupled with the Ergo for G) was definitely the way to go.

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^^ Lunch at Tomboy TavernΒ was well deserved for this guy, who spent the majority of the day carrying G and the baby book bag and pushing Lotte in the stroller. Lucky me <3

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^^ This face … turns me to mush every time. (Both of ’em.)

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^^ Lotte has ridden in a gondola before, but this was the first time she was old enough to actually notice what was going on. I think a small part of her was skeptical and maybe even a little scared, but she did eventually turn around to take it all in.

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^^Β The Easter bunny made a stop by our little Telluride apartment!

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^^ Even though the egg hunt was meant to take place from 9-10, when we arrived at 9:30, most of the eggs had already been scooped up. Two super-sweet workers hid a couple extra eggs for Lotte to find, though, and another little girl even kindly offered to hide a few of her found eggs (sans the candy inside, of course), as well. Lotte didn’t quite understand the concept, but it was still really fun!

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And that was our trip in a nutshell, my friends! Of course there was way more that happened β€” like trying to eat out for dinner on Saturday night and being forced to do take-out instead due to a mini G freak-out. Overall, though, what I’ll take away from this trip, which encompassed a celebration of so many different things, is how amazingly close I felt to my little family afterwards. (More than 12 hours together in a cramped car will do that, I guess!) I’m lucky beyond belief to call these three my own, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures life brings our way.

Bis bald, friends! And happy April!

This Beautiful, Magical Place They Call Yosemite …

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Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see β€” Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods β€” were closed because of the ongoing fire.

Guess that just means we’ll have to come back πŸ˜‰

The views:

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^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.

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^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.

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^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo β€” that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job β€” she even sang to us at one point β€” and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
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^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.

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^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get πŸ˜‰

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^^ Ergo napping baby!

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^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!

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^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves πŸ˜‰ We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.

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^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!

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Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.

Bis bald, friends!