Colorado 2015 | Day Six

Sunday | August 2

{A day of exploring Rocky Mountain National Park}

Porter is up at 5:30 for a bottle, Cecelia comes into our room at 7:00 and goes upstairs with Nate. I finally force myself out of bed at 7:45 to shower right away, eat some breakfast, and pack up for our trip into the mountains this day. Porter is up for the day at 8:15 and Truman was still sleeping at 9:30 when Nate and I left the house. We later found out that he slept in until 10:00 am which is absolutely a record and totally insane! Maybe he is finally reaching an age where he can legitimately sleep in on weekends, let it be true.


Nate and I drove my mom's car towards Rocky Mountain National Park and had actual paper maps to help us find our way (vintage moment!). We wanted to stop and hike a bit, then drive to the top of the mountains and observe (i.e. take pictures) and then we planned to stop at Estes Park on our way back down the mountain for lunch. Sounds easy enough, right? 


We stopped once near Estes on our way up at a visitors center to use the restroom and refill water bottles, paid for our daily pass, and then continued on the windy roads to the top. It was such a beautiful drive and the damage from the last year's flooding was totally apparent near the bottom of the mountains.
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As we drove up higher and higher, I became more and more obsessed with the views. We stopped once at a really pretty parking area for a few pictures and then continued onward, noticing that it seems REALLY crowded with other tourists on this path.

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Best picture of the trip.


At one point all of the traffic sort of stopped and there were two park rangers directing people to continue and then we saw a TON of Elk (Nate thinks they were deer but I'm not sold) laying on this hillside, making people stop and stare. We eventually arrived at the top at 11:30 so it took about 2 hours to get to the final destination of 12,000+ ft elevation on Trail Ridge road. It was super crowded still and hard to find a place to park, but we wanted to get out and walk around a bit and found an open area without a ton of people. We took pictures, breathed the super thin air, and we were totally in awe of these gorgeous mountains. Seriously, no picture will ever do it justice which is a shame because I would love to revisit this over and over again through pictures.

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Since I only had a portrait lens for my nice camera, I took advantage and didn't just take big scenery shots. Obsessed with all of the cool plants up here.


A fave from the day:
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We met a group from Tennessee who wanted us to take their picture, and so OF COURSE I had to ask for a return favor. They were awesome, currently living in Denver and said that the weekends in the summer are always this nuts packed. But they said to come back in the fall once school is back in session and before the snow shuts down the entire trail because it's even more breathtaking.

Next Nate and I had the thrill of the day when we observed a random girl start to sprint, for no reason, in the open area of rocky grass. We think maybe she was trying to be super active and in shape by jogging for a few feet, high on life on top of a mountain. But anyway, she started running and looked very very awkward doing so and then she fell flat on her face. I don't know why, but seeing people fall down always gets me deep inside my inner B personality. She wasn't hurt and totally tried to play it off as if nobody saw her face plant on a mountain after running for fun. I don't think this will be nearly as funny to anyone else and I would KILL to have gotten a video, but alas. The memory lives in our minds and Nate and I still chuckle about it regularly.

So we were walking around and soaking in the scenery, noting that it had easily dropped 20 degrees from Fort Collins, so I was getting pretty chilly. But I still wanted to hike a little bit (not run! No way, not after witnessing that!) and we were already getting hungry. So we decided to walk towards some very large rocks and check out the views from there, since we were definitely not near any good hiking trails. Even just walking the 1/2 mile to these rocks caused major wind sucking by us at 12,000 feet. 

The rocks were called 'Mushroom Rocks' and it was really crazy crowded around them, but still worth it to climb on top and get even better views. This was all above the tree line and I have no idea we could see but it was really surreal and simply gorge.  In hindsight, I wish we would have just packed a picnic lunch along with our canned beer (which we did bring but never drank) and we could have just eaten up here while enjoying the scenery.
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Another fave from the day--I specifically told Nate to go sit on that rock and hoped the other people would clear out of my shot for this.
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'Can you see the mountains behind me?' Nate told me yes, but informed me I looked like I was posing as a Valley Girl.
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We decided to leave the top around 12:45 to head down for lunch at Estes. We snacked on Clif Bars and La Croix and I got really into taking pictures while driving because the trees were just indescribable. 



We got to Estes around 2pm and HOLY CRAZY TOURISTS BATMAN. It was so busy that there were seriously zero places to park our car and I'm sure any of the restaurants would have had hours and hours for a wait. It was ridiculous and totally not what we were expecting. We couldn't even park anywhere to walk around so we just kept going and again, I felt sad that we didn't just eat a rugged lunch on top of the mountain (with that canned beer I was craving). We did stop at this cute cherry store because Nate loves sour cherry juice, and it was adorable inside full of everything cherry. 

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By this time the twisty roads down the mountain were getting a little old, we were starving and bummed that our idea of lunch in Estes was a total flop. Also, we didn't really plan a good place to officially hike so we were not as outdoorsy driving the car to the top of the mountain versus going on foot but whatever, food was a top priority right now. Nate had me search for a place to eat in Loveland since we'd drive through it on our way to my parents' house. Google failed me because the reviews for lunch lead me to a restaurant on a golf course...but nothing mentioned the fact that it was a part of the golf course until we arrived there. Ironically, this was the course Nate and my dad were going to play the next day and I was highly irritated that it wasn't obviously stated on the internets that 'this is where golfers go when they finish a round.' I mean, duh. 

Hangry and tired and annoyed are not good things for me, so we made a decision to just eat at Panera because it was 3pm and STARVED. I do love me some Panera, even though it's not exactly a local experience for vacation. Whatever. It was tasty and I felt less hateful towards everyone once I ate. 

We got back home at 4pm and the kids had missed us as much as we missed them. We got the updates on their afternoon and learned that Porter napped one time for 2.5 hours and CC also napped for 2.5 hours, then hid from my mom and nearly gave her a heart attack when she wasn't in the room. My mom had made fudge-scicles with the kids (with black beans hidden in them, she finds the strangest sneaky-healthy recipes on Pinterest) and they were getting to consume them. Truman and CC both tasted the black beans right away and refused to go further, admittedly the shells of the beans were a little startling. But Porter did not mind in the slightest.



We sat in the backyard and watched the kids play in the pool and the sprinkler. And one point both Cecelia and Truman were flat out crying and then Porter was super fussy. Welcome home, mom and dad!! My parents were perplexed by this because all three were perfect angels while we were away, and go figure...they melt down when they see their parents. This is not surprising to me as it seems to happen frequently, plus being on vacation with so much FUN and TREATS and EXCITEMENT wears on a kid after awhile. Also, routines are shot and anything goes on vacation which is wonderful but also really difficult for children who need to know what to expect (i.e. routine). So yeah, kids were disasters by this point, as expected.



Oh man.

Mom started to make dinner around 5, I tried to help but kids were needing mama, and we all sat down to eat at 5:45. I noted in my phone here that the kids were super tired. We all took turns walking around with Porter inside the house a la his newborn days and then I took him outside for fresh air. Tried to lay him down around 6:30 pm,  after a triple bath was had, but he was not having it. The big kids were happy enough in bath, so Nate and I walked outside with Porter to reset him and we ended up walking fairly far. Then we gave him Ibuprofen around 7:30 and expedited bedtime for all three children. 

We talked about getting drinks or ice cream but we settled for both at home once the kids were down. Cecelia was calling for me at 8:15 and didn't feel tired but I convinced her to keep resting and see what happens (newsflash: she WAS tired and did pass out eventually). 

Beer and uploading pictures and chatting with my parents about tomorrow came next.  Mom and dad went to bed early at 9:15pm. My dad said something about having a new appreciation for us parenting three small children because he was BEAT. It's funny because in the past few years my mom always longingly said things like, 'Oh, I just wish we had ten kids, I loved having little kids.' And then they hang around us and love it (!!) but yeah, she has changed her tune about the ten kids thing. Having three grandkids close in age is enough, especially when mom and dad are in their sixties and keeping up with the rugrats!  It just goes to show that memories of the hard stuff of parenting certainly fade away with time, or at least it has for my mom. Nate and I went to bed at 10:15 this night, knowing the next day was our last full day of vacation.


  1. These pictures are incredible. What a gorgeous place!

    I lol'ed about being hangry and mad at everyone about it (I'm so that way) and about the black bean fudge pops. My kids call me out on that stuff so often that I've stopped trying, haha.

    Just yesterday I was talking to a friend about how kids are angels until mom and dad show up. She'd read some satirical article on fb about how kids are 800% more likely to cry and whine when mom is present. Sounds pretty accurate to me.

  2. One day I will visit the rockies! Those pictures are gorgeous so I can only imagine how beautiful they are in real life.

  3. What type and model of camera are you using? Thanks!

    1. It's a Canon 60D body with a 24mm f/2.8 lens (not a good lens for landscapes but it worked!).

  4. I have been enjoying following along for each day of your trip! Such a pretty place and it makes me want to prioritize a trip to Boulder to visit my Aunt & Uncle!

    And yes to what you were saying and Kristal was saying. My kids are such messes for me. Yay? :)

    PS - Black bean fudgesicles lolololol

  5. Gorgeous photos! We visited Colorado in 2008 and I remember driving up that road. I remember Estes Park being crazy touristy too and always busy.


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