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!

Brigantine Beach and a Big Reunion

A kind stranger offered to take this photo of our whole family after she saw me snapping away, and it’s one of the cutest photos from our trip!

Do you know that amazing feeling you get after you’ve accomplished something that you’ve been planning for a long, long time? And on top of accomplishing it, it actually went well?!

Well that was me and Chris the Friday we arrived in Brigantine!

The beach was about two blocks from our Airbnb in Brigantine, which was amazing since we were eager and tired after our travels!

After our monster road trip across the U.S., we were ready to relax on the beach, eat some good seafood and, more importantly, reunite with some family members that we hadn’t seen since early 2020. It was an emotional trip, to be sure, but I was prepared, and seeing my sister, brother-in-law and niece in person for the first time in 1.5 years was everything I thought it would be and more.

SISTER! YOU’RE ACTUALLY HERE!
Sweetest beach kiddos!
This collapsable Radio Flyer has been amazing ever since we bought, even on the beach. Would highly recommend!
Em was clearly very excited to meet her Aunt Stephie for the first time πŸ˜‰
Our cute crew. Yes, it took forever for us to all get out the door, but it was very worth it when we finally did.
Steph’s house was close to a beach that had more relaxed waves, and a glorious view of Atlantic City right across the water.
Two men and three ladies.
Grandpa came to visit one day, too!
So naturally we dressed all four girls in matching outfits for a photo opp <3
Cutest cousins!
We had a big ole’ seafood night for dinner the day grandpa came to visit, and it was everything I had dreamed of and more. (Em was thrilled by it, as well !)
Delight!
Rosalie’s love for Em was too much for my heart to handle.
Of course it went by way too quickly, but we managed to make the BEST memories.
Beachcombers … in theory.
Rosalie was just turning one the last time I saw her, and now she is a tiny human, running and talking. Seeing her this way, after so long, was just the best.
We sure do love Aunt Stephie <3
Ladies in yellow.
Don’t ask how long it took to get this picture!
The bunk beds are our Airbnb were a big hit!
These two snuck away one night for some gambling in Atlantic City which, we didn’t realize, was only a few minutes away from Brigantine. They really played up the part, wouldn’t ya say?
Ro and Grace have a dueling Boss Baby thing going on, but at the end of the day, they sure do love each other.
Family <3

Besides the awesomeness of seeing family, this was also our first family trip to the beach since we were in Australia, and Em’s first trip to the beach in general. The two older girls loved it so much, I have a feeling we might need to make regular beach trips a thing in our future, as well.

Always leading the way on adventures.
But really, what’s not to love about the beach?
This one slept most of the time, but when she was awake, she loved to take it all in.
Many-a-shell made it back home with us.
In his element.
Our traditional in-the-air photo with Lotte, the beach version.
Sand castles for the win.
Everything about this one is 100%.
Em wasn’t quite sure how she felt about the actual water, but she was happy to partake from the shore.
My sister and I even managed to get away for a solo lunch, just the two of us. This was my first of many lobster rolls, and it was everything I want in life.
Food just tastes better at the beach, am I right?
Especially ice cream!
And watermelon!
Sweetest little ray of light.

The Details

This was the Airbnb where we stayed which, like I mentioned, was about two blocks from the beach. It had two rooms, and the girls loved staying in bunk beds together. There wasn’t a pack and play, so we did have to bring our own. That was fine, since we were planning on doing that anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are traveling with your own little ones.

Some food spots I would recommend include:

β€” Brigantine Bagels: A MUST for bagels and coffee, if you want my opinion

β€” Laguna Grill & Rum Bar: Steph and I ate here for lunch when we escaped, and it was just the delightful beach scene we were looking for. There were places to eat both inside and outside, live music and lots of delicious seafood to pick from.

β€” Crab Shack Seafood: We picked up the seafood for our seafood night from here β€” lobster rolls, crab legs, muscles, clams, corn and Caesar salad β€” and it was all so good!

β€” Aunt B’s: Stop here for ice cream at some point in your trip … it’s delish!

The last time I was in Brigantine I was in high school, and while it was a great trip then, this visit really topped the charts. We stayed until Tuesday, so for three full days, and it was the perfect way to start our whirlwind trip. It was so nice to have some time with just Steph and her family, and to start off with a relaxing (is anything relaxing with kids?) first leg.

And that was our beach trip, friends! Until next time … bis bald!

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!

Last-minute Fall Getaways in Colorado Springs

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Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a little nuts around here lately, so when our realtor recommended that we go away for the weekend while she had our open houses to sell our home (yes … we’re selling our first-ever family home … and that’s all I have to say about that for now), I really balked at the idea. We’ve been so busy, and the girls have been sick, and all IΒ really wanted to do was lay in my own bed all weekend (obviously not an option anyway) with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.

But we decided to go away, since leaving the house on the spur of the moment for hours a time for showings didn’t sound like much fun either … and at the end of the day, I’m glad we did. It was nice to get a little breather away from the house (which has been the center of a lot of our stress, to be honest) and to spend some time in the mountains in fall. We ended up booking this place in Colorado Springs, which was actually part of a larger home in a gorgeous neighborhood, but we had our own entrance and it was completely cut off from the rest of the house, so it ended up being really nice.

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Frisco, Colorado for the Perfect Labor Day Weekend

Our family of four hiking near Frisco, Colorado

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a happy (and hopefully relaxing) holiday weekend. Chris & I took our lot to the mountains for a little getaway in Frisco, Colorado.Β  We had only been there once before when we stopped for breakfast on our way back from Beaver Creek two summers ago, and I made a mental note back then that we would have to come back and stay for longer. Plus, spending one of the final summer weekends in the mountains seemed like a good way to top off a summer of adventures.

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Keeping National Parks Pristine, One Clean-Up Event at a Time

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Happy Thursday, friends, and happy almost holiday weekend! We’ll be heading to the mountains for a couple of days, but before we left I wanted to spread the word about an amazing initiative that was recently brought to my attention. The program β€” called Adventure Responsibly β€” is being spearheaded by Travelodge by Wyndham, and they hosted a cleanup event at Rocky Mountain National Park this past Tuesday. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the actual event (you know, kids and all), but I am here to make sure all you lovely readers know about future ones, in case there is one happening near you that you might be able to join.

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The Source Hotel + Market Hall and a Bacchanal Celebration of All Things New Orleans

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Happy Monday, friends! This past weekend I was hosted by The Source Hotel + Market Hall, where I got to stay in a King suite (and soak in the glorious tub), shop at Market Hall, eat at their different restaurants and attend Bacchanal, a New Orleans-style wine, food and music festival that was held in the parking lot of The Source. Besides the fact that having a full weekend in a hotel all by myself was glorious (love you Chris & kids!), it was also a great opportunity to see all the ways that this particular Denver neighborhood β€” called RiNo β€” is really developing.

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The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten

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Happy new week, friends! I just returned from a wonderful press trip to Massanutten Resort inΒ Virginia, which is about a 20 minute drive from where I went to college at James Madison. This trip was so much fun, not only because the resort itself is full of any and every activity you could ever want (more on that later), but also because I got to meet up with my dearest girlie bestie for it, and we were able to take a pit stop at JMU on the way to Massanutten, as well. Top on our list of places to hit for our quick college reunion were our old Mexican food fave, El Charro, as well as ice cream at Kline’sΒ and a quick walk by the quad to visit the James Madison statue and the offices of our old college paper, The Breeze.Β Lisa and I could not stop talking about how our love for journalism began in those tinyΒ Breeze offices … as well as our love for each other πŸ˜‰

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A Girls’ Weekend in Nashville

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That right there is most certainly the picture of two very happy mamas. Why? Well because, as I’ve come to discover, finding the time to hang with your girlfriends β€” just you and your girlfriends β€” is just as important after you have babies (maybe even more so?) as it was before.

I say this as someone who waited almost three full years after becoming a mom to do so.

Carla and I began planning for this past weekend’s trip to Nashville in February, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. Besides the fact that Nashville itself is adorable (which pretty much everyone knows by now, but I had never been before), I got to remember what it was like to travel on my own (no screaming babies!), to sleep through the night, to have an uninterrupted conversations, to dress up and do my hair and stay out past 7 p.m.

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The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch

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Well, friends, it was a mountain kind of weekend, and we fell in love with a brand new one. Granby RanchΒ is less than two hours from us, but it’s a tiny little mountain town that, to be honest, we had never heard of before. We were looking for a mountain adventure to go on with Kate, though, and a quick search on Travelzoo found some pretty cheap lift tickets ($65 for the day! That’s unheard here in Colorado … ), so we thought we’d jump on it and explore a new place.

And I can’t overstate this enough: We loved it!

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A Day for Family Photos, a Sneaky Get Away in Mudgee & Our Final Days in Bathurst

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I mean,Β could this family be any cuter?Β The answer is no. No, they could not.

The day after Boxing Day, the Connor Clan headed over to a park in Bathurst to take some professional family photos. Of course waiting for professional photos to arrive really isn’t my thing, so you know I had to snap a couple of my own.

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^^ All these cute Connor grandkids together makes my heart pretty happy <3

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While there were a bunch of things that Chris and I were excited for when it came to this trip, one of them definitely was taking a night away, just the two of us. Believe it or not, Chris and I had not been away together just the two of us since we had kids, and I have only ever been away from Lotte for one night, and never from Grace.

In other words, some time away was definitely overdo.

So after our family photo day, Chris and I packed up and headed over to Mudgee, which was about two hours from Chris’ parents house. We stayed at the Parklands Resort & Conference Centre and took a wine tour with Country Escape Tours, where we visited three wineries, one distillery and a cheese making company. The town of Mudgee was so cute, and the wine tour was really intimate and fun. Unfortunately we did return to a pretty sick Lotte (the next day after we got back was when we brought her to Urgent Care), but sickness aside, it was really nice to take the time away.

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^^ It’s not so hard leaving your kids when you know they’re in great hands.

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^^ We headed out to Mudgee Brewing Co for dinner the night we were in town. They had live music and we ate outside in their pretty garden and I had a delicious shrimp salad. It was pretty great, friends.

After we returned and took a couple days to get Lotte checked out and feeling better, we spent our last couple of days in Bathurst ringing in the New Year with Chris’s parents and brother and his wife, taking laps around Mount Panorama with the girls and having a picnic in the lovely Cook Park in Orange with Chris’s grandma.

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^^ This is potentially my favorite shot of the entire trip <3

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And that takes us pretty much through what I think of as the first part of our trip. After Christmas and New Years in Bathurst and Mudgee, we packed up the car and headed back to Sydney to spend our final couple of days in Australia staying at Chris’s aunt’s place, and then his uncle’s, and touring around all the best parts of Sydney, according to us seasoned pros. I’ll take you through our final couple days in two more posts, but until then, bis bald!

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”

Great Sand Dunes National Park For an Epic Birthday Celebration

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Chris & the girls & I got back yesterday from a weekend away in Alamosa, where we stayed at the adorable 40 Winks Inn and visited Great Sand Dunes National Park. We only found out about the Great Sand Dunes over the summer when a cousin of mine was visiting Denver with her family and they went to see them. Chris really wanted to plan a visit for his birthday, and I’m so glad we did. They are the tallest dunes in North America and are surrounded by grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. It’s honestly, truly magnificent. And although Lotte originally referred to them as a “big pile of dirt,” I think she honestly had the most amazing time sandboarding with Chris and just playing in the sand in general. We had the most glorious weather, packed a picnic, and even did a little off-roading afterwards.

Colorado, you are one beautiful state, and you never cease to amaze us.

So, are you ready for lots of photos of sand? Well good, then you won’t be disappointed!

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^^ These ladies were the most amazing travel buddies on the four-hour ride. We were a little nervous about Lotte and the whole potty situation, but she only had one accident, and honestly it was our fault because we should have been paying closer attention. Overall, we were so impressed with these little travel warriors.

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^^ We stopped in Bueno Vista and had sandwiches at Biggies Sub Shop, which turned out to be way delicious and the perfect little half-way pit stop.

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^^ Colorado road trip roadside views = pretty epic.

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^^ Someone was less excited about the views πŸ˜‰

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^^ How cute was our Airbnb, 40 Winks? And how cute is little Lotte, making herself right at home on her potty! There were two bedrooms in the space, but there was also a Queen bed in the living room around the corner, so it was perfect because Chris and I just slept there and gave each of the girls their own room. It was a great little spot, and only two blocks from Main Street which, while very small, had some nice restaurants and breweries.

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^^ Our Airbnb was made for Insty πŸ˜‰

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^^ Our first stop after rolling in on Saturday was Square Peg Brewerks on Main Street, where Lotte made the cutest little friend, fell in love with a dog and had the best time playing cornhole.

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I didn’t take any photos there, but we also visited San Luis Valley Brewing afterwards for drinks and dinner, which was super tasty.

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^^ Sunday was the big day. After renting a sandboard and a sandsled from Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, we headed to the Dunes, which was about a half hour from Alamosa. Our first stop was the visitor center, which small enough to not feel totally intimidating but had all the info you could possibly want about how the Dunes form (the Medano Creek brings the sand down, and the wind blows it back up … in a nutshell).