Wednesday-7/5 we headed to Colorado, stopped in Grand Junction for the night. We visited Colorado National Monument, went on a little hike and took pictures.
Thursday-7/6 We stopped at the Betty Ford Gardens in Vale and played at the playground too. We drove through the Johnson/Eisenhower tunnel. To top it off we went on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Then we found our way to Estes Park where we stayed for four nights in a cabin on the Big Thompson River that was over 100 years old. During our stay Chloe managed to get the stomach flu (we originally thought she got car sick, but when she kept throwing up in the middle of the night we thought otherwise). We also set off the smoke detectors while burning toast in the toaster. And Peter had to run to town twice in one night to make phone calls to a pediatrician on call to see if there was anything we could do for Chloe. Also during our stay we explored several parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, drove Trail Ridge Rd., saw all kinds of wildlife, including moose, elk, deer and big horn sheep and decided to leave the top of the mountain when it started thundering and lightening. We saw a bolt of lightening hit below where we were driving, it was pretty freaky. We also frequented a nearby park a few times and played mini golf when it wasn't raining.
After our stay in Estes Park, Monday-7/10, we drove to Denver and Connor enjoyed standing on the mile high step of the State Capitol building. We also went to the Denver Mint gift shop (we had hoped to go on a tour, but they were sold out for the day and our kids were all too young as well-you had to be 8 years old). We also went to the Denver Botanic Garden where the kids had a blast playing in the children's stream and we enjoyed seeing all of the flowers. Then we drove south and stopped in Colorado Springs. We enjoyed Pike's Peak from a distance and enjoyed singing America the Beautiful in the car. We decided the road to the summit was too twisty and we didn't want to test Chloe's stomach. Instead, we visited Garden of the Gods and enjoyed the beautiful rocks. We turned a corner and saw a deer up close, about 10 feet away. We went to the Trading Post and bought Chloe and Connor a bag of dirt. Then we went outside and they went mining for treasure. They each cleaned a bunch of gems and had quite the collection to take home. It was probably the highlight of the trip for them at that point. They both wanted to do it again.
During our trip we also had a great time entertaining ourselves. The kids enjoyed listening to music and then singing some new songs. It was great to chat, sing, and play around with the kids to pass the time and not have them glued to a movie screen (which was offered at one point and neither wanted to watch anything).
Tuesday-7/11, we went to the Great Sand Dunes and had a great time playing in a big one inch warm stream. All of us got in on the fun and enjoyed getting wet. During April and May this little stream is deep enough to go tubing down. In July it is down to one inch and in August it completely dries out. After our fun here we drove to Durango and stayed a few nights. We found the Santa Rita playground and spent several evenings playing and picnicking.
Wednesday-7/12, Peter woke up feeling ill. We headed off to Mesa Verde National Park and signed up for a cliff dwelling tour. While waiting for our time slot, I drove around, the girls and daddy napped and Connor and I got out and saw several pit houses and other dwellings. When it was time to go on our tour Peter opted to stay back with the girls while Connor and I went on the tour. It was really fun. On our way back down the mountain and back into town Peter tossed his cookies on the side of the road. I took him back to the hotel and the kids and I went shopping for dinner and then played at the park until it was time to go to bed. Back at the hotel Connor showed Chloe how to play Bananagrams.
Thursday-7/13, morning Peter felt better and we were off to ride the Durango/Silverton Railroad. This is a 3.5 hour train trip up, play in town for 1.5 hours and then 3.5 hours back. There were three trains that made the trek on the same track and then had to turn around to go back. Our train arrived first and turned around. The other two trains arrived and then while one of them was turning around, the switch on the track was moved and the train derailed breaking part of the track. Our train was stuck as we were the only ones that needed to go over the section that broke. So when our train was set to leave and then didn't, the conductor came and told us there was a problem with the track and that they were working hard to fix it and we could get off the train if we wanted to. We were to stay close to hear the four whistles that signals get back on the train, it is ready to leave. So after the kids were done playing in the puddles, we walked down the track and saw what was going on. They had a front loader lifting track and setting it in place while several men in overalls hammered the track and rails in place. Another guy was cutting the track to the perfect size with a torch. It was pretty awesome to watch and probably the highlight for the kids. After a 2.5 hour delay, the track was fixed and they slowly walked our train over the mended area and then we were on our way back down the mountain.
Friday-7/14, we went to a fish hatchery and fed trout and then drove to Ouray and looked at and hiked to several waterfalls. We drove along the famous San Juan Skyway. In town we had lunch at a Thai place and stuffed ourselves silly, then went to our hotel. Dinner came and Peter and I were still full, so the kids enjoyed easy mac on the balcony. Then it was early to bed.
Saturday-7/15, we went on a jeep tour of the Yankee Boy Basin and the Governor Basin. The jeep held 9 people in the back and our family had two car seats and a booster. We had a lot of fun. This was my favorite part of the trip. We saw waterfalls, rivers, flowers, and drove through rivers. It started to rain on us and the top was put on just for it to stop raining about five minutes later. So the top was taken off. Later towards the end of this 3.5 hour tour it started raining again. Our guide was not in a place where he could stop, so we endured the rain and then it started hailing on us. By the time he could stop we were all pretty wet but having a great time. The top was put on for the remainder of our trip. I sat on the edge of the middle seat and each time we turned a corner I got a wave of water that had pooled on the top that splashed down on me. Everyone else was completely dry when we got back and I had one leg that was soaked through. Still my favorite event of the trip! Back in town we got ice cream cones, shopped for dinner and then headed back to the hotel. We changed clothes and then went to the pool which was a natural hot spring. The big pool was 2 feet deep, which everyone loved and was about 95 degrees. We tried a hotter pool but lasted about 10 minutes and then switched back to the cooler pool. We stayed until almost closing time and then headed to bed.
Sunday-7/16, we left Colorado and went to the Four Corners. Yes we were in four states at once. Connor's highlight was being in the middle. We also went to the Grand Canyon for a short visit. Connor and Chloe did the Junior Ranger Badge there (they got one at every national park we went to and a couple national monuments). It was very beautiful there. We stopped for the night in Flagstaff and went to bed.
Monday-7/17, we saw more cliff dwellings at Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle and then we finished our road trip home.
After all we packed into the trip we were glad to be back home! Connor played the license plate game on our trip. This kept him occupied for a long time and of course he enjoyed seeing all of the plates. He didn't see Hawaii or Rhode Island, but found several from Mexico and Canada.