Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pyramid Peak

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mike and Ben summitted Pyramid Peak today.  CFI's (Colorado Fourteeners Initiative) website says the following about Pyramid:
Pyramid is one of the most challenging and dangerous Fourteeners. Make sure you have knowledge and experience before climbing this peak.

Wikipedia says:
The standard climbing routes on Pyramid Peak are the northeast and northwest ridges (the latter is also known as the "Keyhole Route"). These routes involve difficult route finding (very difficult, in the case of the northwest ridge), high exposure, and a great deal of loose rock. Hence they are two of the most difficult and dangerous of all of the standard routes on the Colorado fourteeners.

The guys summitted Pyramid a little after noon.  They called us when they got a cell signal on their descent.  Mike told me that some of the trail would've really freaked me out.  I don't know, something about walking along a narrow rock ledge with a several thousand foot drop really does send my heart racing! 

Ben took pictures, but I haven't gotten them off Mike's laptop.  I'll add them to this post later.  I should probably warn the grandmas not to look at the pictures.  The fear factor is intense!  Just remember...they made it home alive and well...and now Mike's summitted 24 fourteeners!!!  (I'm still stuck at 20 :(  Next trip I WILL summit a mountain!)

Twin Lakes

Friday, September 17, 2010

After the kids woke up from their naps, we decided to venture into the metropolis of Twin Lakes.  I think Julie said the population of year-round residents is 25.  It's a very small town!  While we were getting ready to go, Brody took on the task of holding Sylvia.  He really loves babies, so it wasn't a was a joy for him!  (Not that you'd know that from the picture below.  He wouldn't give me a real smile...and Sylvia looks a little confused as to why I'm letting Brody be responsible for her!)
We stopped at a little store in Twin Lakes that sells all local art (jewelry, art, etc).  I bought a necklace and a magnet and we found out about a little trail just on the edge of town that leads to the lakes.  I'm glad we found out about the trail because after a short hike through wild grass the path opened up to a secluded part of the lake.  We didn't see anyone else while we were out there!  The sun was getting close to setting and the lakes and surrounding mountains were breathtaking!  (Are you tired of me saying everything is gorgeous? still have 2 more days to read just soak in the beauty...and let me know if you think of more adjectives I can use to describe God's creation!)
Brody and Malachi asked to wear their swimsuits to the lake.  We thought they might get their feet wet, but we were shocked when they submerged themselves in the freezing water!  Malachi was the first one to take off and run into the lake.  Izzy was right at his side!
Before long they were all splashing around in the water.
Except for Barrett!  He had no intentions of getting out of the backpack! 
Mikayla was loving splashing her feet in the water, however, when she fell forward and landed on her hands and knees she wasn't quite as excited!  She ran crying into Julie's arms and then almost immediately went back to the water.  (In fact, she was the one we had the hardest time convincing to leave the lake!)
It was a little muddy around the lake.  Brody was running so fast that he kicked up mud onto his own back!
We could tell that the lake is low right now.  Much of the area where we were sitting is probably under water during the peak of the snowmelt.
Not long before we were ready to leave, Barrett finally decided to get out of the backpack.  He and Mikayla threw rocks into the lake together.
A picture of the all the kids (minus Sylvia who was sitting in her infant carrier).  I know they all have their backs to me, so you probably think it's really their stunt doubles in this pictures...but you'll just have to trust me that it's really Mikayla, Barrett, Brody, & Malachi.
Buddies - Malachi & Brody
If I lived in the Twin Lakes area, I would definitely do a photo shoot with my kids by this log cabin.  I used my favorite picture as a teaser.  Here's Brody, Julie, Mikayla, and Malachi hiking back towards the minivan (Barrett was on my back and I was carrying Sylvia in the infant carrier.)
When we got back from Twin Lakes, we let the kids play in the hot tub while we made a gourmet dinner of hot dogs, green beans, and fruit.  Mike and Ben arrived at Hind's Feet just in time to give the kids a goodnight kiss.
Today might have been a long, taxing day for me and Julie, but it was also so much fun.  We had a lot of time to talk (between questions like "where are my shoes" and "can I have something to eat") and even some uninterrupted time to talk while the kids napped or played outside.  I'm looking forward to another day tomorrow in beautiful Colorado!

Beaver Pond

Friday, September 17, 2010

We are so thankful that Julie's parents have allowed us to stay at their home while we are in Colorado.  Not only is it a gorgeous home, but there is plenty of room for the kids to roam and explore!  Since the last time we visited, Tom & Connie (Julie's parents) have given their home and surrounding land a name.  They call it Hind's Feet.  They named it after a verse in Habakkuk:

"The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hind's feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."
Habakkuk 3:19

It is absolutely breathtaking at Hind's Feet!  Here's a picture of the log home (a dream home for me and Mike!)  The balcony on the top floor leads to the huge guest room where Mike and I are sleeping.  The big window in the middle is the master bedroom (where Ben & Julie sleep).  The kids have rein of the lower level. 

I didn't take many pictures of the inside of the home because the views outside are so breathtaking!  This is what I saw when I stepped out onto our balcony this morning. 
Mike and Ben left at 5 am to drive towards Aspen and Pyramid Peak.  The kids were up not long after 6:30 am, so the day had begun for me and Julie.  After breakfast, we decided to hike to Beaver Pond.  It was a short hike from Hind's Feet and the kids were happy to be outside running freely through the woods.  I love how Malachi grabbed Brody's hand to run with him along the path.  So sweet!  Mikayla wasn't far behind while Barrett insisted in riding in the backpack (he loves that thing!) and 8-week old Sylvia rode in Julie's wrap.
I forgot to mention the other tag along...Izzy!  Isabelle (Ben & Julie's dog) loved running through the trails with the boys.  I think it was because she knew where we were going!  She bounded into the water as soon as we arrived at Beaver Pond.  I have to toot my own horn a little here...I think the picture below of Izzy in the pond is gorgeous!  I!  Just's this gorgeous in a picture...I wish you could see how gorgeous it is in person!
Malachi and Brody have immediately become friends.  The last time they saw each other Brody was only 10 months old, however, they've heard plenty about each other from their mommies!  We came to Colorado at one of the most beautiful times of the year.  The fall foliage of the aspens is in full bloom and it makes for very vibrant pictures!
On the way home from Beaver Pond, Mikayla decided that she wanted to be carried across the log bridge.  Julie (who is holding Sylvia under a blanket) picked up Mikayla and carefully inched her way across the bridge.  I stood at the other side asking her if she'd rather me to grab Mikayla if they started to fall or take a picture of the event.  Thankfully they made it safe and dry to the other side of the stream.
I included this picture for one reason...the stick in Brody's hands.  Malachi and Brody each found sticks at Beaver Pond that they decided would be guns.  We actually brought toy guns with us, but these sticks must be much more fun.  They have become the toy of choice for both boys!  I post this picture as a record of the place where Brody found his gun.  (Side note - The gun made the trip home with us and is still played with by Brody!)
When we got back to Hind's Feet, Malachi was eager to show Brody the tree house/fort that his Pops (grandpa) built for him to play in.  They spent some time fighting an imaginary enemy while Julie and I relaxed on the porch and then made lunch for all the kids.
This is the view of Twin Lakes from the ground underneath the fort.  I should've climbed up in there to get a picture of the view from the fort, but I'd've had to avoid pine cone bombs and bullets from the stick guns to get up there.  At the time, it wasn't worth it for a picture!
After lunch we put the little kids (meaning everyone but Brody & Malachi) down for a nap (the big kids watched a little tv and then headed back outside to play).  I moved Barrett's pack-n-play upstairs to our room (which is so huge that he seems another room away when the pack-n-play is on the far wall) for his nap and probably for the rest of the trip.  Last night he kept the other kids awake talking to them (even during the night).  It's important to us (meaning the adults) that all the kids get plenty of rest.  It makes much happier children which equals much happier we'll see if we can improve on sleep quality for everyone by having Barrett sleep upstairs.

Brick Oven Ben

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We arrived in BV just in time for dinner with Ben & Julie (and Malachi, Mikayla, & Sylvia...I can't believe they've had 2 children since the last time we saw them!!!)  We were excited to see the outdoor kitchen that Ben has been building on their back porch.  He finished the brick oven this summer and is still putting the finishing touches on the rest of the outdoor kitchen. 
Can you guess what we had for dinner?  Brick Over Pizza!!!!  It was sooooooo good!  Here are Brody and Malachi chowin' down at one of the newly built tables.
Mikayla and Brody opted for the little picnic table while the adults sat on the other side of the yard at the big picnic table.
I didn't get a picture of our table, but I did get a picture of my pizza!  I know this isn't a Paula quality food picture.  It was getting dark and I don't normally take pictures of food (at least those are my excuses), however, I hope you're still able to see how delicious the pizza was!

We also had dessert pizza.  It was simple.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar (lightly) on the crust, cover with strawberries and a few chocolate chips, and then give it to Ben to put in the brick oven.  Scrumpdiddleumptious!  Not only were the pizzas good, but now Ben has inspired Mike to add a brick oven to our backyard.  We'll have to see if we can figure out a good place to put one...and see if Mike has time to build one.  I would love it!!!

After dinner, Ben & Julie packed up their minivan (when we first met 10 years ago I never would've pictured them in a minivan! Oh how we've all changed! lol) and we headed up to Julie's parents' log home at Twin Lakes, CO (they're on vacation and are letting us stay at their house this week).  We put the kids to bed and then Julie and I climbed in the hot tub while Mike and Ben planned for their trip tomorrow (they're going to climb Pyramid Peak).  It was so relaxing sitting in the warm hot tub under the cool, starlight night...talking with my best friend!  Oh how I've missed her! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Elmo

Thursday, September 16, 2010

After we bounced our way down Mt. Antero Trail (there was only 1 time when I felt like we were about to roll the Jeep...but Mike backed up quick enough to keep the tires on the ground), we drove to an old mining town called St. Elmo.  (Side note:  This morning we told the boys that we were going to St. Elmo after we packed up camp and Barrett insisted on keeping part of his Daddy Bar (breakfast bar) to "show Elmo".  As much as I tried to explain that the red, furry Sesame Street Elmo wouldn't be there...I'm not sure he understood.)

Mike and I first visited St. Elmo and the surrounding mines back in 2005 with Ben & Julie (before we had any kids, therefore, before we had a I can't link to those pictures.  Sorry!)  It's still just as beautiful! (I guess a ghost town doesn't change much in 5 years. lol)
The boys were excited to feed the chipmunks.
This helped Barrett forget about seeing Elmo.
These chipmunks are used to being hand fed.  They'll crawl all over you try try to get a seed (not sure what the seeds were that we paid $0.50 for at the General Store).  The one below crawled down Mike's arm and started eating out of the food baggie!
As we left St. Elmo, we had to stop for another potty break (yes, one of our boys wanted to dig another hole!), but then we were on our way to BV!!!!!  (Buena Vista, CO...home of some of our best friends in the world, Ben & Julie!!!)

Mornin' Sunshine

Thursday, September 15, 2010

Last night was interesting.  Instead of trying to cover enough hard ground with thermarests, we decided to put an air mattress in our 2-man tent.  We put the boys to bed (only had to holler at them 347 times to get them to be quiet and go to sleep) and Mike and I sat around the campfire until our bedtime (which really wasn't that long after the boys...remember we didn't get any sleep on Tuesday night).  The air mattress was luxurious for long as no one moved!  Every time someone turned over in their sleep, it rocked everyone else.  It's probably a good thing that Mike and I were so sleep deprived because we actually slept really well and I think the boys slept well too.

At 6:15 this morning Barrett sat straight up and announced to the world, "I. am. awake!" (you have to think the word "awake" in a sing song voice).  It was so cute that we were all laughing.  The boys were rarin' to go and wanted to climb out of the tent "now"!  We tried to explain to them that it was cold out there and they needed to get warm clothes on first.  Mike got out to start the fire and start making breakfast while I dressed the boys (which took "forever" according to them). 

Mike cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast and served it alongside a mug of hot chocolate.  Yummmmmm!
After sitting in the cold to eat breakfast, the boys decided they were ready for the sun to shine.  Since it was still behind the mountain (and the boys were getting really cold), we decided to let them warm up in the Jeep.  They spent 1/2 hour "driving" up the mountain in the Jeep.
Finally the sun began to peak over the mountain to the east of our campsite.
The boys piled out of the Jeep and got to work playing.  For a while we staged a battle and chased each other thru the trees shooting each other with the boys toy guns.  This made Barrett thirsty!  (Doesn't his hair look angelic in the early morning sun?!?)

You might have noticed that Barrett didn't have his glasses on in these pictures.  I'm guessing he won't get to wear them much this trip.  Why?  Here's a prime example...
For some reason, Mike and I don't think that his glasses do him much good when they're caked (and I mean caked) with dirt/mud! 
I can't post about camping without mentioning the "unmentionable"...going to the bathroom in the woods.  With 2 boys, it's not a big deal to pee outside (they do that all the time at home!)...but they looked at me like I was crazy when I told them what they had to do when they needed to go #2.  If you are male (or have ever raised or lived with them), you know that all things potty related intrigue little boys.  Needless to say, once they figured out going #2 in the was fun...which means they were always wanting to dig a hole to try to poop in!  Ok, maybe "always" is an exaggeration (when I read that I visualize them digging lots of holes around camp...and it wasn't like that), but they went poop more times than normal (whereas I try to avoid doing that in the woods if at all possible...what can I say, I don't like the pine needles poking me in the butt!)   *after proofing this paragraph, I'm pretty sure Mike would tell me this is waaaay too much information...but it's ok.  It was a memorable part of the trip for me, so I want to write it down!*
Once the sunlight was illuminating the meadow around us, we headed down to the stream for a little more fishing.   
Yesterday was the first time that Brody had ever been fishing.  I've been surprised at how fast he's learned to cast.  He's gotten really good at it in just one day!
The water was so clear that we could see the fish swimming around.  Gorgeous!
As nap time drew near, we packed up camp and started the hour drive down the 4-wheel drive road back to the paved road.  We had so much fun camping as a family of 4 for the first time, however, I think next trip we'll bring at least a 4-man tent to sleep in.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It was so fun to watch the sun rise this morning because as it rose we could see the gorgeous mountains!  Brody exclaimed over and over, "The mountains are beautiful!  Thank you Daddy & Mommy for bringing us to Colorado!"
We weren't the only ones up this early.  We saw several deer out for their morning stroll.
After several miles on a paved county road, we left the pavement for a 4 wheel drive road.  In the map below you can see the route that we took.  We followed the turquoise trail towards Baldwin Lakes.
Parts of the road were easy going and parts of it were pretty rough!  There were a few times where we thought about turning back...but isn't this what a Jeep is made for?  Here's a picture of one of the smoother patches (it was too hard to take pictures when I was really being jostled around!)
We finally made it far enough to pick out a campsite.  We wanted something that was close to a stream and this spot fit the bill.  It was gorgeous!!!
As soon as we set up camp, Mike and Brody headed to the stream to fish.
Barrett and I followed.  I don't know why Barrett's yawning?!  He had plenty of sleep last night!


I was on this trip too!  (And yes, I had to wear the ugly, bug eye glasses.  I can't wait to go to Canton next month and get a pair that actually looks ok!)
While Mike was making our lunch, the boys decided they wanted to climb a mountain.  Brody looked at the rock pile across the way from our campsite and declared that it was a mountain he would conquer.  Can you see the boys hiking in the picture below?
Mountain Man Brody 
Our campsite (yes, that's a 2 man tent that we have set up for the 4 of us.  I'm sure I'll have stories about our night tonight when I post tomorrow.  I'm afraid we might be just a little squished in there...but it's bound to be better than sleeping in the Jeep...right?!?)
Barrett & Mommy down by the stream (he wanted to go hiking in the backpack rather than fish).

One of the fish Brody caught (actually, Mike got it on the hook and Brody reeled it in).  This one wasn't quite big enough to be a keeper, but it was pretty!
After an unsuccessful naptime attempt (the boys were too excited to go to sleep), we climbed back in the Jeep to drive another couple miles to Baldwin Lake.  Barrett fell asleep as soon as we started bouncing around in the Jeep and I tried to prop his head up with a sweatshirt so he wouldn't jostle his brain!  It took about 45 minutes to go the 2 miles to the upper lake, but it was worth it!  It was GORGEOUS...and we were the only people there!
(Can you find Brody's bobber in this picture?  He became an expert at casting!)
Mike is in this picture.  Can you find him?  As I said before, this lake is gorgeous and the surrounding mountains made it absolutely breathtaking.
Mike hiking back to the Jeep with Brody on his shoulders.  (See the Jeep in the distance?)
It gets dark quick when you're in the mountains.  By the time we finished eating and cleaning up dinner, it was time for smores!!!  On our way down from Baldwin Lake, we found a stack of split firewood at an abandoned campsite.  We loaded it up and had plenty of good wood for a fire tonight and another one tomorrow.  The boys had fun eating marshmallows (I prefer the chocolate!). 
We've had an awesome day together as a family.  Bedtime tonight should be interesting.  With the 4 of us sleeping in a 2 man tent, by morning we'll be even closer as a family!