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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Top Five Travel Snacks

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A whole post dedicated to snacks. Silly? NOPE! I’ve done it before besides, I’m the grumpiest grump when I’m hungry, not only that, but I’m pretty much incapable of any sound thinking let alone making a decision so snacks are important. We need to talk about them. I conferred with my buddy Erin, who joined me in Thailand this past March, and we agreed on our favorite travel snacks. Erin showed up in Bangkok with a child’s daypack stuffed with snacks and teabags. I immediately gave her the props she deserved then we talked {snack} shop.

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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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What To Do Immediately After a Jellyfish Sting

One day I’ll share the full story of my suspected box jellyfish sting, but for today, here’s what to do immediately after sustaining a jellyfish sting in Indo-Pacific waters.
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Happy Survivor Thursday! Don’t wait until you’ve been stung by a jellyfish to find out how to handle it. Let my personal experience and my many mistakes pave a pain free way for you, but first, back to Survivor Thursday.. I always struggle to begin these blog posts, but when I sat down for this one, I instantly thought ‘Survivor Thursdays!’ and then I thought, ‘where da fuq did I get that from?’ so I googled it. Way back in 2000, when I was obsessed with the show Survivor, it aired on Thursday nights, which jogged my memory, in middle and high school, I used to refer to every Thursday as Survivor Thursday. I reeeeally wanted to be on that show, but now I’ve moved on to dreams of winning Naked and Afraid – wish me luck and apparently this year they moved Survivor to Wednesdays, but I’m stickin’ with it. Happy Survivor Thursday, now here’s what to do immediately after you’ve been stung by a jellyfish in Indo-Pacific waters.

*WARNING* gross jellyfish sting images after the jump!

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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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Sweat Lodge Experience in Ecuador

So sorry about the cell phone quality images – I didn’t want to leave my DSLR outside the lodge, exposed to the elements, for four hours.. kinda wish I did though. Headed to Ecuador? Here’s what I packed.

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I’m finally sitting down, sifting through photos and beginning to mentally unpack the year I’ve had thus far. An experience I keep coming back to is that of the Andean sweat lodge in Ecuador at SachaJi Ecolodge and Wellness Center. I had never participated in a sweat lodge ceremony before and I had no idea what to expect before entering the small tent where the ceremony would take place. Once I saw how squat and confined the lodge was, I certainly felt a twinge of apprehension, but after spending a few moments in the tent with our ceremonial leaders, I felt at ease.

In all cases, the sweat experience is intended as a religious ceremony. Participating in a sweat is likened to entering earth’s womb, it’s a prayer for healing and should only be undertaken with experienced leaders or elders who know the language, songs, and traditions of the sweat lodge otherwise the practice has a potential to be dangerous to both your physical and spiritual being. Entering into a sweat lodge should not be taken lightly. It’s a sacred space of respect and ritual.

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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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Seasoned View : Vol. 25

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find our archive of past months’ views here.

Sup pups? It’s been a year, yuuuuup, an entire year since we’ve come at ya with a seasoned view, but boom! Just like that we’re back. I spent the evening researching and pricing out yoga retreat packages for Tulum, Mexico and now I cannot stop thinking about the beach. Warmth, coconuts, waves, sand, books, sunglasses, beer, sunsets, all the other island buzzwords you can think of, that’s where my head is at right now. Throw your towel down and enjoy looking at the horizon with me, this Seasoned View takes place on the tiny island of Koh Kood, Thailand.

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You can download any or all of these images to use as  backgrounds and screensavers for your computer, phone or tablet.  Simply click on the photo or the link below each photo then right click and save it to your device. While you browse, learn to count to four in Thai.

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Koh Lipe & Thai Islands Packing List

18015712_10155074277711217_653301825_o Happy Monday fools! I’m back with yet another packing list post. What can I say? I know how to fill a bag. Packing for a trip to a Thai island is pretty simple, you don’t need too much since you’ll likely be lounging in your bathing suit most of the time.

Most recently I visited Koh Lipe, Thailand’s southern most island. Wow. Koh Lipe is pure magic. I’ve been to a number of Thai islands during my time as an English teacher, but there is something really special about this particular island. It’s really tiny and therefore easy to explore by foot and that’s what I did most days when I wasn’t lounging on one of the pristine beaches.  If you’re visiting Koh Lipe, here’s a short list of what you’ll need. I linked to the exact products I use – enjoy 🙂

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