Saturday, June 30, 2007

Going Home

Today was a sad day. We had to drive home today leaving Ben & Julie, Buena Vista, and the mountains behind. It was sad to say goodbye to Ben, Julie, and Malachi...not knowing when we'll see them again. I pray that we don't have to wait a year or more to see them again!

As we left Buena Vista we dreamed about what life would be like if we lived there (as we do everytime we visit). Brody fell asleep in the back and slept almost all the way to Denver. When we got to Denver we went to REI (a tradition on all our CO vacations) where I met up with Sapphire (one of my friends from Babycenter)! We've been online friends for a few years and it was so cool to get to meet her in person!

Sapphire has a 2 month old named Karalee. We stood outside and talked for a little while so that Brody could play in the rocks. He was much more interested in exploring the rocks, sticks, and trees than he was in looking at Karalee!

Here's Sapphire and Karalee with me and Brody in REI.

Of course, Mike had to get in on the baby holding too ;)
Instead of bringing our carrier into REI...Mike tried out a new one while we were in the store. Brody liked riding around in it! I think malls should have backpacks rather than strollers for rent!
We left Denver around 2:30 pm (3:30 pm CST) to drive back to KS. Brody did really well on the drive home (most of the way). We stopped a few times for him to get out and play and eat. This is one of the rest stops that he played at (sorry...but I don't remember where we were!)
How do you like his bear crawl? He does this sometimes when he's crawling across something that's kinda prickly.
It was a very late night for us. We stopped in Lyons on our way home to pick up Trevor from our friends (Matt & Tina) who kept him for us for the week. We didn't get home until after 11:30 pm. It was a long day...but it was worth it for the wonderful week in Colorado.

Thanks to Mike for planning and taking me and Brody on such a wonderful vacation!
Thanks to Dad, Mom, & Tyler for joining us!
Thanks to Ben, Julie, and Malachi for being such good hosts and taking us on lots of fun outings!
Thanks to Patty & Steve for letting Dad, Mom, & Tyler stay in the Motel!
Thanks to Chris and Teri for watching Remington, checking on our house, and getting our mail!
Thanks to Matt and Tina for taking care of Trevor for us.
Most of all...thanks to God for creating such a beautiful world for us to explore.
"Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?"- Job 11:7

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lost Lake

Brody LOVES outside. In fact...he right now he doesn't like being inside at all! He goes to the door and cries. As soon as you open the door and he crosses the threshold...the crying turns to laughter! So...we took turns sitting outside on the front porch with Brody. Here's Tyler and Brody talking outside: This is Dad, Mom, & Tyler's last day in Buena Vista, so Julie wanted to take us on a fun hike. We drove a little ways up Cottonwood Pass and parked on the shoulder of the road. There wasn't a sign for the hike she was taking us on, which means it's not a popular tourist destination! She told us that we were hiking to Lost Lake and gave Malachi the mission to find the lake that is lost! It was an absolutely gorgeous hike thru the peaceful trees and meadows!

This is a picture of Mike watching Tyler and Malachi run down to a bank of snow. Tyler and Malachi had several snowball fights along the way.

Malachi loved hiking with us. He talked nonstop! He asked questions, told stories, and entertained us all. He didn't see the need to walk across bridges...instead he splashed thru the water to the other side!
Tyler, Mom, Mike, Staci, Brody, & Dad in front of Lost Lake.
Isn't it beautiful?!
Julie and Malachi (Ben had to work today)

Tyler enjoying the view.
Before we left the lake Dad, Mike, and Tyler had a contest skipping rocks.
On the hike back to the car we let Brody sit on the edge of the stream and play with the rocks and water. He wasn't wanting to be carried...but since he can't walk yet there was no other choice! We made frequent stops to let him get down and play.
The views were spectacular along this hike.

We at lunch at Pancho's (a fast food Mexican restaurant) and then went back to the motel to help Dad, Mom, & Tyler pack up. We were sad to see them leave...but we had a WONDERFUL week in the mountains with them! We can't wait to do it again!
We spent tonight at Ben & Julie's house. When Ben got home from work, he and Mike went to the grocery store to pick up some chicken for dinner. It took them over an hour (the store is a few blocks away) and when they came home they had a crazy story about some lady throwing a tantrum over chicken in the middle of the store! Guess they had to wait a while for management to take care of her. After dinner, we gave the boys baths and put them to bed. Then Ben and Julie's friends, Josh and Colleen, came over. We hung out in the Little's backyard singing praise songs to Ben & Josh's guitar playing. It was a wonderful time of worshiping our Savior together as friends. I really cherish that time together and wish we could have it more often!

After Josh and Colleen left, we all stayed up and watched a moved called, "I am David". It a story of a 12 year old boy's escape from a Communist concentration camp. It was a little slow...but it was good!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Coffee and Rafting

I was looking forward to this morning all week. Julie and I got to go to Bongo Billy's (the local coffee shop) all by ourselves! When she lived in KS we loved going to Hutch and getting coffee at Metropolitan Coffee. Back then we didn't have kids and always stayed there really late...just talking! So we spent a couple hours this morning just talking and drinking coffee at Bongo's. I wish we could do this more often!!! While we drank coffee...the boys played in the apartment at the motel. They also went to the lake to feed the ducks, however, the ducks weren't interested in the bread the boys were throwing them (even with Malachi's expert duck calls!)
When Julie and I got back to the motel, we all went for a walk. We visited Julie's dad's Drug Store/gift shop, another souvenior store, and the local park (I find that since we have a kid...we now get to see all the local every town)! Then it was back to the motel for a lunch of leftovers.
Around 1:00 Dad, Mike, Tyler, Ben, Julie, and I headed to Noah's Ark headquarters just outside of Buena Vista. Dad and I were excited to embark on our very first whitewater rafting adventure! Everyone else had been before. In fact, Ben and Julie are good friends with the guy who runs Noah's Ark, so they were able to get us discounts on our tickets!

There are 4 or 5 boats that ride down together in a "pod" and there's a lead guide who keeps his boat at the back of the group so he can keep an eye on everyone. We were in the lead guide's we were at the back of the group of boats. It was fun watching the boats in front of us go thru the rapids before we hit them. Mike and Tyler were at the front of the boat and were determined to get everyone soaked by the cold water!

There was one time where a boat in front of us got hung up on a rock in the middle of one of the rapids. Our boat was already in the rapids (there was no going backwards) when we realized the other boat was stuck! The rough water slammed our boat against the one stuck in the rock throwing Dad to the floor of our boat and almost knocking a guy out of the other boat into the river (our guide pushed him back in with his paddle). We paddled hard and were able to get clear of the other boat and thru the rapids. The other boat got free of the rock and made it out of the rapids just after us. Here's a picture of our boat going thru one of the many rapids:

We were a pretty good paddle crew, so our guide let us spin thru 2 of the rapids! That was pretty crazy! What startled me the most was when he suddenly aimed us backwards towards some rapids and then ran to the front of the boat (by Mike and Tyler)! This put Julie and I (at the back of the boat) in the front for the rapids....guaranteeing that we'd get soaked!!!!

We had a lot of fun and I'd love to do it again. I think Mike wants a more challenging river next time while I kinda liked the level of rapids that we encountered on this trip.

After we all warmed up (by taking hot showers) and cleaned up....Mike and I left Brody with Dad, Mom, & Tyler and went out for a date! We ate dinner at Quincy's Steakhouse. It was YUMMY! It's a very unique menu. They only serve one dinner: salad, fillet mignon, baked potato, and bread. Ben and Julie had recommended it and we were glad they did! Yum! After dinner we watched a men's softball game at one of the diamonds in town and then drove around just sight seeing. It was fun to have some time alone.

While we were gone, Brody had fun playing. When we got back to the motel we could hear him laughing from the bathroom where Daddy Steve was giving him a bath.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Black Canyon National Park

This morning we woke up and decided to drive to Gunnison. Dad & Mom have a National Parks pass and we thought it'd be fun to go to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We looked up the route on Streets and Trips and it told us the drive would be 80 miles. An hour and a half didn't seem like too bad of a drive! What we didn't realize at the time was that the National Park is another hour past Gunnison...and the 80 miles to Gunnison is mountain driving (it took us close to 4 hours to get there!!) We left Buena Vista at 9:45 am and followed Patty's recommendation of taking Cottonwood Pass to Gunnison. It was a BEAUTIFUL drive!

We stopped at Taylor Reservoir to stretch our legs and take a few pictures.

On the road again towards the National Park we saw a sign that made us laugh.

What made us laugh even harder was when we saw this:

We stopped for lunch along Taylor Creek and then drove thru Curecanti National Recreation Area before FINALLY reaching Black Canyon National Park.

It was worth the drive. We drove up to the Visitor's Center and then hiked around a few trails near the canyon's edge.

Mike and I saw this sign...but decided to keep going.
I saw a rock that I wanted Mike to climb up to with me so that we could get a good picture.
Mission accomplished :)
Tyler wondered why they didn't allow shoes on this part of the trail?

Mom, Dad, Brody, me, & Mike looking down at the canyon

After watching a short movie telling us about the early days of exploration at the Black Canyon (well...actually Dad, Mom, & Tyler watched the movie. Mike and I left with Brody when he got fussy) we began the drive back to Buena Vista. We stopped for dinner in Gunnison. We picked up Sonic and took it to the local park so that Brody could release some pent up energy! There was a 4 man see-saw at the we had to try it out. It was not easy on my tailbone!

Eating in the park
Brody playing in a tunnel at the park.
Brody was kinda fussy on the way back to Buena Vista. He'd been in the car basically all day and was ready to get out of his car seat! Mom sat beside him and sang every song that she's ever learned (some of them several time) to keep him happy.
We arrived back at the motel around 9:30 pm. Brody was sooooo happy when we got him out of the car and let him crawl around inside the motel apartment!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top of Colorado

The alarm on my watch went off at 3:40 this morning. Mike and I quietly got dressed (in the dark) in our tent. We successfully made it out of the tent without waking Brody! Then we woke up Tyler and made sure that Dad was awake. I went to find the baby Tylenol Cough and Cold to give Brody. I was hoping it'd clear out his nose and help him sleep longer. I gave it to him and then Mom crawled into our tent with him to go back to sleep.

Mike, Dad, Tyler, and I ate breakfast and then hiked towards the Mt. Elbert trailhead by headlamp. We hiked southeast on a trail for 0.3 miles to Elbert Creek. We crossed the creek on a bridge made out of logs and then continued south on the Colorado Trail as it climbed to 10,600 feet. We left the Colorado Trail where it intersected with the Mt. Elbert trail and began the switchbacks that would lead to treeline. As the sun began to rise, the mosquitoes came out of hiding. I hiked ahead trying to make it to the ridge. I was hoping that if I got further from treeline I wouldn't have to deal with the mosquitoes. I finally just picked out a rock to sit down on and....pump. Yes, I had to take a manual pump with me. There's no way I could've gone from 8:00 last night until 4:00 this afternoon without nursing Brody! I was enough ahead of the guys that I was able to pump until they caught up with me. They only had to wait a few minutes and then we headed on towards the ridge.

Here's a picture of Tyler, Dad, and Mike as we stopped for a break. You can see the false summit Mt. Elbert in the background. After hours of hiking up (one step at a time)...we finally made it to the summit of Mt. Elbert!!! It was 9:20 am when we reached Mt. Elbert's summit at 14,433 feet. It's the tallest mountain in Colorado and the 2nd tallest in the continental US!
Mike and I have climbed many 14ers together. This made number 23 for Mike and number 20 for me!!! There are 54 in we still have quite a few left to climb!
On top we ate a snack and rested. I also used the cell phone to call Mom (back at camp). She was excited to hear that we'd made it to the top. I could hear Brody talking in the background. She said they were having lots of fun together!

A view from the top of Colorado
We spent about an hour on the summit before we put our packs on to head back down. The hike down was beautiful! The sun was shining and we could see for miles! It's easier on Mike's knees to jog down rather than he and Tyler went ahead of Dad and me. They would go down for awhile and then wait for us to catch up. Just as we reached treeline the clouds covered the sky. It sprinkled on us off and on but never rained. It made the hike thru the trees much more enjoyable than it would've been if the sun had been beating down on us! Here's Dad hiking down to the trees.
We arrived at camp around 12:30 (just 2 hours after leaving the summit)! Mom said that she and Brody had lots of fun while we were gone. They walked down to the river singing songs and whistling. She said that he loved the rairoad tie by the picnic table and spent half an hour climbing over and back. He didn't want to nap in the she had put him in his carseat, then sat in the front reading a magazine while he took his nap! The mosquitoes were getting bad there again and Mom came up with a creative way to use the pack-n-play bug net!
As Mom made lunch for the hungry hikers, Tyler began to get a severe headache (affects of the altitude) so he went to take a nap without even eating. The rest of us ate and then Dad and Brody also headed to tents to nap. Mom, Mike, and I sat around the campfire playing Crazy Eights. We had a lot of fun playing together. I won't mention who the winner was (cough*me*cough)! ;)
After nap time, Dad and Tyler informed us that they didn't have the energy to climb Mt. Massive tomorrow (as originally planned). So instead of sleeping in a tent with Brody another night, we decided to pack up and go back to the motel for the night. I think the incentive of a good dinner made the idea more appealing! As you can see in the picture below...we hardly had room for everyone in the Durango! Can you find Mom?

Back at the motel, Mom and I made burritos for dinner...along with apple pie and ice cream! Yum!! Then we watched Myth Busters on Discovery while we fell asleep.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Climbing and Camping

Ben took a half day off work today so that he could take us rock climbing at Bob's Rock just outside of Buena Vista. He is a great climber and an amazing instructor. He set up 2 different routes and we started off with him belaying Tyler and Mike belaying me. Can you find Tyler and me in the picture below? Ben belayed Mike as he climbed the harder of the two routes.
Brody and Namaw enjoyed the nice morning breeze while they watched us climb. Later Brody took a nap in the stroller while Namaw climbed.
I just finished climbing the harder of the 2 routes and Brody was waiting at the bottom for me!
Here's Daddy Steve rock climbing.
"Yes!" Namaw was excited to make it up to the ledge!
After we finished climbing, we went back to Buena Vista and had left over pizza for lunch. Then we repacked Dad & Mom's Durango with all of our camping gear. We drove up to the North Mount Elbert Trailhead and began to look for a good place to camp. There were several fee campsites and we decided to stay at one of them because it was such a big campsite with lots of flat ground to set up tents. It also had a picnic table (a huge plus)!
Here's Dad & Mom standing in front of their tent.
This was Brody's very first camping trip (can you believe we waited 10 months to take him camping?!?). Here's our family in front of our 2-man tent.

Tyler was really missing Ann by this point in the trip!
Brody LOVED camping!!! We started calling him our little dirt baby by the end of the day. He was filthy! I was relieved that he mainly played with the sticks, leaves, pine cones, and didn't try to put everything in his mouth (just some stuff).
After we set up camp we hiked down to Emerald Lake. It was so still outside and the reflection of the trees and mountains in the lake was beautiful!
Shortly after arriving at the lake we headed back to camp. We decided we wanted to conserve our energy for the long hike the next day. Mike and Tyler made Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe from GG) for dinner. It was spicy and very yummy! We didn't make quite enough, so Mike made some Ramen Noodles to top us off.
We played cards for awhile and then it was time to hit the sack. Brody fell asleep pretty quick!
He didn't sleep very well during the night. I think the altitude made his nose get stuffy. He didn't ever totally wake up...there was just lots of tossing and turning and little cries. Just enough to make us have a very sleepless night...of course we were only 2 inches from his head!