Colorado Roadtrip : Pagosa to Ouray

You can find more of our Colorado adventures here, and if you like travel posts, we have a lot! We took this road trip in our *new* van (can’t wait to tell you more about it); this post gives you a little overview of what we pack in the van. And here are some of our basic tips for camping with kids.

Yesterday I shared a glimpse of our 36 hours in Great Sand Dunes, today I’m sharing from the rest of our trip as we visited Pagosa, Ouray, and the scenic highways in between!

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First up, the most breathtaking pit-stop that we made for a certain 4 y.o. that had to go. Look at those cliffs! This is somewhere east of Pagosa along US route 160. I stayed neared the van where Luc was sleeping while Alex and Calder took a little walk to stretch their legs. Can you see them in the first pic? They’re just little dots holding hands and being careful not to lose each other down the cliff.

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Colorado Roadtrip : Great Sand Dunes

You can find more of our Colorado adventures here, and if you like travel posts, we have a lot! We took this road trip in our *new* van (can’t wait to tell you more about it); this post gives you a little overview of what we pack in the van. And here are some of our basic tips for camping with kids.

Earlier this month, we went on a five-day road trip to south west Colorado. It’s a part of the state we haven’t explored, but had heard great things about. We set out excited to experience the beautiful San Juan mountain range. Let me spill the beans right now: this trip was awesome (I’m writing this about a week after the trip, and we’re still talking about it). We loved the scenery, the hot springs, and the towns we visited.

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This is going to be a two-post report. In this post I’m going to share photos and from the first bit of our trip that was spent in Great Sand Dunes National Park, and in the second post I’ll share photos from our visits to Pagosa Springs and Ouray.

We left after work on Tuesday and drove until we reached Great Sand Dunes (it was sometime after midnight). Rather than head straight to the park, we took the rocky and bUMpY 20 minute ride to Zapata Falls, camping there for the night. When we woke up in the morning, the view was breathtaking! From high on the hill, you could look down and see the sand dunes with the mountains in the background. Don’t you love waking up to a surprise like that? roadtrip2

We were so excited to get to the dunes that we had breakfast, stretched our legs, and then got back in the car and headed into the park. Sadly, we didn’t take the time to hike to the actual falls at Zapata Falls. That’ll have to wait for our next visit!

Campground

But, our timing was perfect, because we drove into the park, took a quick stop at the visitor’s center, and then took a drive through the unreserved campground and were able to snag a spot as someone was checking out! I definitely think timing was on our side, there seemed to be daily-turnover in the park midweek, but then as we were checking out Thursday morning, it seemed like everyone coming in had plans to stay through the weekend.
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The Dunes

After securing the spot, we drove straight over to the sand dunes. We knew we wanted to hike on them, and everyone warns that it’s best done either earlier in the morning or later in the evening – times when the sun isn’t shining as bright and the dunes are cooler.

As you can see in the photo above, we came early enough in the season so that the water (from snowmelt) was still flowing through the park. This creek dries up by late June, and I’m sure that would create a much different (hotter/dryer/dustier) visit. I’ll share a few more pics of our time near the water later in the post. First, we just crossed it on our way to the dunes.

And those dunes are spectacular. It’s such a mind-bending experience to see these large (largest in North America!) dunes at the base of the granite mountains. From some angles you could see the mountains, and from others you just saw sand and blue skies.

If you look closely in the photo below, you can see people hiking off in the distance, and it helps to give you some perspective of the size of the dunes. roadtrip5 roadtrip6 roadtrip7 roadtrip8

We set out on our walk not having high expectations for how far we’d get (that’s the best mindset you can have with two little guys in two)… but I secretly think that both Calder and I were hoping we’d make it to the top!

We were prepared with both a larger hiking pack to hold the big kid and the ergo to hold the smaller kid. There were times when the boys were in their packs and there were times when they were out, and step by step we made progress until we made it to the top!

It was hard work, guys. About 2 hours of hard work. Every step you took involved some sinking into the sand and sliding slightly backwards.  roadtrip9 roadtrip10 roadtrip11

As you can see in the photo above, we carried along cardboard in the hopes of sledding down the dunes. Many friends told us that this worked for them. It definitely didn’t work for us. I’m not sure what went wrong, but we had the most success just sitting on our bums and doing a slow slide down the steeper sides of the dunes.

Dune Shoes : And, as mentioned above, the dunes do get hot. I wore sneakers, while Alex and Calder both had slip-on summer shoes. I saw lots of other hikers with sandals and flipflops. Honestly, I’m not sure what kind of shoe is best. The boys had trouble with sand getting into their shoes, and so did I! I didn’t expect it with my sneakers, but sand was sneaking in through the mesh fabric of the shoes. It even got stuck between the layers of fabric, and for about a week, it would slowly weasel its way out as I wore the shoes. But the sandals and flipflops also seem like don’t offer enough protection from the hot sand. Who knows, you just have to pick your poison. roadtrip12

After our hike, we were worn out and starving, so we headed back to the campsite for an easy ramen and eggs lunch, and then naps (for everyone!).

The Water

Post naps, we headed back over to the dunes, and spent a couple of hours near the water. The boys had a great time play in the sand and wading in the water while C and I had a chance to relax and enjoy the view.

Can you spot the deer in the photo below?! roadtrip13 roadtrip14 roadtrip15

Then it was back to the campsite for marshmallows, stories, and an early bedtime.
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Etc.

Just a few additional observations and hearsay about Great Sand Dunes :

  • sledding down the dunes : As I mentioned, many people told us to pack cardboard for sledding. That didn’t work at all for us. Maybe it will for you? We also saw people sledding and “surfing” on boards rented in the park. They look like fun, but you have to want to carry them up the dunes.
  • mosquitoes : We had no trouble with mosquitoes, but have heard from others that they can be overwhelming in June.
  • hiking : In addition to the dunes, there are many other hiking trails. We didn’t venture out on any, but would love to on a future visit.
  • campground store : There’s a nice little campground store that carries a wide variety of items. We stopped in one night for ice and firewood and saw that they also carried ice cream and avocados. Great store!
  • shade tents : many families brought shade tents to the water area, and that looked like a great idea if you planned to stay all day (it seemed like many people treated it like a beach day).
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First Bikes for Kids

There’s no doubt about it, we are a biking family. Did you see our recent ride in Rocky Mountain National Park (that was my Mother’s Day treat, and I couldn’t have been happier!)?

Calder’s the intense guy you’ve passed in your car; the one riding up the steepest of mountains and making it look like it’s no effort at all. In my heyday, I biked all of Philly & Boston and was so proud when my car would sit unused for a week at a time.Thanks to the generosity of my mom, we were early adopters of the TAGA. When we moved to Boulder, C added an extra basket so that I could do all of my grocery shopping and errands via the bike. I have such fond memories of getting to know our new city by riding the bike paths with Alex! I would still bike everywhere if I could, but kids and living on the mountain make it a challenge. Continue reading

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Chive Blossom Fritters

It’s Pollinator Week, and we’re sharing pics of bees and one of their favorite early summer treats in our yard. Coincidence? Possibly.

Chive fritters, because it’s fair season, and just like pickles, cheese, and ice cream, even flowers can be fried. Classy? No. Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

Our house came with large patches of chives that produce an overabundance of beautiful edible blossoms every spring. I love the chives, but they also drive me slightly crazy because I feel bad when I’m not making use of the bunch. One of the easiest things to do is sending Alex out to pick chive and dandelion blossoms for our salads. He loves the independence that comes with being sent to do a job like this. I’ve also experimented with chive-infused vinegar. Remember the dressing in our pollinator salad? These fritters are yet another good use for the blossoms. chive_fritters1

But as it often happens happens, when I’m outside picking the blossoms, the bees are buzzing. They’re gently collecting pollen as they move from one flower to the next, and it’s then that I’m reminded that it’s perfectly fine to take a handful or two and just let the rest be. {Look at that bee bum!}

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Our Top Sun & Water Essentials for Toddlers

I’m so excited for summer with the boys. They are 2 and 4 years old, and I can already tell that this is going to be a really active summer for us. From the moment they wake up until they pass out, we’re riding bikes, playing in the baby pool on the back porch, and going for hikes in the woods. All that time outside in the sun requires good gear, and a dip or two in the water to cool off. So, below we’re sharing our favorite sun and water gear, because the two go together like peanut butter and jelly (obviously).
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Welcome June

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, farmers’ fields, and environmental holidays. *You can find our archive of previous welcomes here (a few months are missing from the archive, we’re bowing our heads in shame).*

Hello, Summer!

Are you feeling the heat? Based upon our Instagram feed, I sense that most of the country had a nice spring and then transitioned into hot weather sometime last month. Not us, we had an unseasonably large snowstorm in late May, which confuses our minds and the garden. Remember last month’s welcome when I was already talking about the crazy weather BEFORE that storm? But anyway, our hot days have arrived, and we’re loving it!

We’re transitioning to more dinners on the deck, more long evenings playing in the dirt, and (of course), more fresh seasonal eats.

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The image above is from the Library of Congress’ online prints and photos collection. I love these old prints. The designs are awesome, and they tell a story about the times. I also love the idea that the government was trying to get us to work together, a particularly common theme for the posters made during WWII, and even outside of war times there were others about taking care of yourself (eating healthy, exercising, etc.) and some about celebrating American heritage. If you’re looking to waste time online the LOC is a great place to do it.

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Biking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Last weekend we went biking in Rocky Mountain National Park and it was amazing. If you would like to see our previous forays into RMNP (including our awesome winter camping trip!) click here.

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We took this trip on Mother’s Day ~ it was the treat that C planned for me, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I love biking, and I really love biking with C and the boys, but I don’t find it fun or relaxing if we’re biking on roads busy with cars. Fortunately, as I’ll explain, this ride was perfect because it was car-free and the scenery was breathtaking. More pics and tips ahead!

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A Day Trip to Cheyenne, WY

We love to travel. If you’re interested in more adventures in the Western US, check out our Colorado hikes.

If you follow us on Instagram, then you saw that we got up close and personal with some buffalo. That experience happened at the end of a day trip that we took to Cheyenne, WY on a whim. And what a great whim it was!

When leaving for the trip, we knew nothing about Cheyenne, other than that it was only an hour and a half drive from Boulder, and that it was in Wyoming. Sarah and I are always up for any adventure that takes us somewhere new, so with excitement in our hearts and two crazy kids in the backseat, we set off.

First stop, coffee and egg sandwiches for the drive. Next stop, the Cheyenne visitor center.

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Welcome May {2017}

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, farmers’ fields, and environmental holidays. *Somehow we took a year-long hiatus from posting our monthly welcomes. Anyway, we’re hopping back on the train, and you can find our archive of previous welcomes here.*

This is our third spring living in Colorado, and I think I’ve finally adjusted to the weather patterns. For example, I now understand that spring is just another word for limbo (defined as : “an intermediate state or condition”). One day provides the most beautiful summer weather you could imagine, the next day you’re clearing the snow from your car.  That weather may drive some people crazy, but I’ve grown to love it. It creates more of a slow, gently slide from winter into summer, making the spring seem like it lasts forever, and completely wiping any sense of what month it is from my brain. I’m pretty sure that April lasted 50 days this year, yet I thought June was starting tomorrow. “WHAT IS GOING ON?”, says the well-adjusted Coloradan. 😉

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#TRYPOD

Are you guys listening to podcasts? If so, I hope you followed-up on some of Sarah’s suggestions. She listed SO MANY good ones. Seriously.

A variety of the major podcast producers have joined together this month with an initiative they’re calling #trypod. They’re encouraging podcast listeners to tell friends about their favorite podcasts, and if necessary, show a novice how easy it is to subscribe and listen to podcasts. Also, Sarah’s a little peeved that #trypod stole her idea, she’s been trying to get you guys to listen to podcasts since 2015 (she even had a special Earth Day Edition!).

I’ve been a podcast listener since way back (I’m pretty sure I discovered Josh and Chuck), and love the convenience of having a good show available at any time of day. It’s virtually impossible to listen while taking care of the boys, but these days I find myself always putting on a podcast after they go to bed and again turning to podcasts whenever I have some free DIY time (nothing goes better together than painting some furniture while listening to YHL). It’s not a lot of hours, but it’s enough to listen to a few of my favorite shows each week.

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My current top five, in no particular order…

Stuff You Should Know : I referenced this show’s hosts, Josh and Chuck, above, and once you start listening, you’ll see how quickly you start talking to your friends about what J & C taught you. You’ll probably grow to love their friendly banter, you’ll start to assume they’re your friends, and you’ll start to miss them if you don’t listen for a while. They cover every and any topic under the sun. I always learn something cool, crazy, or gross while listening. Last week I was learning all about hookworm. Did you know that hookworms enter your body through your feet, move through your bloodstream to your lungs, and then you’ll hack them up with a dry cough and swallow them so that they enter your gut, which is where they really want to be? YUCK! Check out that gross and cool fact.

Young House Love : Ahhh, our favorite blogging couple that took a break and then came back with an entertaining design podcast. I love John and Sherry, and while I found some of their blog posts to be a little wordy (I admit, some days I was just there for the pretty before and after photos!), their podcast is great. They cover a variety of design, renovation, and house maintenance topics. They play some games, and often have any number of guests that you’ll know if you pay any attention to the design and design blog worlds. Lots of fun to hear these conversations when you’re used to reading the blogs.

The Dinner Party Download : This may be my favorite podcast of the moment. I wish I had a weekly dinner party with Rico and Brendan. They describe the show as “a fast and funny hour of culture, food and conversation”, and I really couldn’t say it any better. Each episode includes a joke or two (usually a groaner, which are my fave), then there’s a cocktail recipe inspired by history, some obscure current events, some great music (the soundtrack to your dinner party), and generally just a good time. I can’t get enough.

How I Built This : Confession : This is a show that I didn’t think I would like, because I don’t want to hear about how you, you, and (yes) you became millionaires. I especially don’t want to hear about how that guy in the corner made his billions. But, guess what, I subscribed to this podcast, and it just happens to automatically start playing while I’m washing the dishes, and I’ve really enjoyed every single episode so far. The stories of how different businesses and products are developed turns out to be pretty fascinating and a lot less pretentious than I expected. If you want a place to start, listen to the 5 Hour Energy episode (March 13, 2017).

That’s it. Listening to those four and sometimes TED Radio Hour (TED talks curated into a show!) is about all I have time for in a week.

Sarah here! I’m butting my way into this conversation since TRYPOD was totally MY idea. My favorites are mostly the same as before. I love Invisibilia, Snap Judgment, Radio Lab and Mortified, but I also have a new favorite! It’s called Guys We F*cked, BTW it’s not as radical or provocative as it sounds so if you’re a bit shy, give it a listen anyway. It’s an anti slut shaming podcast and basically a space to have open sex-positive discussions. Even more than that, the co-hosts (who are also great comedians) interview a wide variety of subjects, male and female, pertaining to issues about sex, gender, relationships and reproductive health. I think it’s a really liberating podcast and especially important for young people who want to know a thing or two about sexual health, but do not know who to ask. Sex isn’t wrong or shameful or something to be whispered about and I’m really proud of these ladies for stepping it up even when platforms like iTunes were trying to silence them. Okay, back to Kate!

What about you? Have any favorite podcasts that I should add to my queue?

~

Wait, are you brand new to podcasts?  If you listen to NPR, then you can think of podcasts as having a similar format to an NPR show without the breaks for news (some of them even are NPR shows without the news – surprise!).

You can go to the webpages above to listen to many of the shows, or even easier, you can use a podcast app on your smartphone and subscribe to your favorite podcasts.  The app will take care of updating your queue with the newest episodes and it’ll delete an episode after you’ve listened. Easy peasy.

Images : #trypod

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