Sunday, June 30, 2013

Colorado Vacation

This year, we were again treated to an awesome Colorado vacation with the Michel family.  On our first morning there, Steve, Brett & Jaime, Chris & Ledger took the cog railway to the top of Pike's Peak mountain.  (I didn't think Locke was ready for the altitude, so we stayed at the cabins.)  Ledger thought it was pretty neat up there, but got cold quickly and was ready to go inside and warm up once he took a few pictures at the top.  I still haven't been to the top of the mountain -- maybe in a couple of years it will be my time to take Locke up to the top!
Ledger & Daddy atop Pike's Peak

Later, the Hindmans drove in from Longmont and we met the Pogues and Yosts at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  I, personally, LOVE this zoo.  It has an amazing giraffe feeding station and they just come right up to you, wrap their tongues around your hand, and eat the lettuce you're offering.  It's pretty cool.  Locke was not too excited about the giraffes.  Ledger was SUPER excited about the giraffes, but wasn't brave enough to hand-feed or touch them yet.  Also, this zoo is undergoing some major renovations.  Since our last visit in 2012, they've done a major expansion of the elephant enclosure along with improvements in lots of other areas.  The new grizzly bear enclosure was a big hit with Grammie.  At the new elephant enclosure, we got to watch an elephant get a bath and then roll in the sand.  But the thing that Ledger and Locke loved the most was getting to spend time with their big cousins, Connor, Chase, and Brady.  Chase, the oldest, is SO great with the little kids and was especially good with Locke -- who is still kinda finnicky with people other than Mommy and Daddy.  It was so great to see them all together.  I hope we can do it again soon!

Family photo at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Ledger's first horse ride!  He loved it.

One of our favorite places in Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods.  Chris and I just love the scenery and uniquely red rocks that jut out of the ground to create amazing formations.  Before we had kids, we hiked up to the Siamese Twins formation and loved taking photos up there.  On our last visit, we took the kids and even Grammie and Papa up there -- we all loved it.  This year, we were excited to take Jaime and Brett up there too.  Lucky for us, they are good hikers and adventurers, so instead of just keeping to the standard trails, we went exploring through the backwoods of the park to see if we could reach some other formations too.  It was so much fun.  The kids were exhausted, of course, but we all had a great day. (Amazingly, Locked liked being in the hiking pack and was very content to enjoy his "ride" through the trails!)  It's probably one of the best memories I have of being in Colorado as a family.

Last year when Pam and Steve went to Colorado on vacation, they visited a nearby wolf preserve and took a tour.  Ever since then, Pam has been very determined to go back there and take it one extra step by going INTO the wolf enclosures for a photo shoot provided by the preserve.  Of course I was more than willing to join her!  First, we took the tour of the facility and got to see all of the different types of wolves that call the sanctuary home.  The kids liked the animals, but got bored with all of the talking.  After the tour, Pam, Steve, and I had a safety briefing and then were taken into an enclosure with three wolves.  Kekoa, a very large male wolf, is well-known for being very friendly and came straight up to us to give us wolfie kisses!  It was so amazing.  Up close, this wolf was truly huge with a head the size of a steering wheel.  Kekoa settled into a comfortable spot between Pam and I and enjoyed a butt rub while we talked about the wolves.  The other wolves watched from a distance but never approached us.  The whole experience was magical.

The next day, we did a little more hiking in another part of the Garden of the Gods park.  The rock formations were amazing, but we did a little less "off road" hiking this time around.  We especially liked some of the ledges and crevices we went to explore!

It is a family tradition that we visit downtown Manitou Springs and take photos on this cool back-alley stairway.  We also took "old time" photos, but Ledger wouldn't cooperate this year, so only Locke got his done.

On our last day, our family decided to explore a new area of the springs and hike in the Red Rocks Canyon open space.  It's only about a half mile from our cabins and we drive past it all the time, but we've never actually stopped to explore the trails.  We had a great time on the secluded paths through the red rock ridge area, but eventually headed home when the clouds started to build.  I especially enjoyed the hike, because Chris volunteered to carry Locke in the hiking pack! :)

On Chris' birthday, we packed to drive home from Colorado.  We stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and went into Garden of the Gods park to eat at our favorite overlook.  Although I'm certain that Chris would rather not spend his birthday in the car, at least he got a memorable birthday breakfast!  (We also stopped at Taco Grande in Hays on the way home, which made him very happy too!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vacation Bible School

This year, Ledger was invited to join Grandma Jamie at Vacation Bible School at her church in Mentor, KS. Although it shouldn't be a surprise at all, Ledger LOVED every minute of it.  On Sunday, his group had a play/singing performance where they performed the songs they'd learned all week long.   It was especially fun that BoomMa and BoomPa got to be there for his performance too!  About halfway through the performance, Ledger left the stage to use the restroom.  When he didn't come back right away, I went to check on him.  He told me that he was ready to be done singing.  I convinced (bribed) him to go back on stage and finish the performance.  Maybe our little man got a little stage fright. :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Memorial Day and River Festival

This year, we celebrated Memorial Day at Lake Kanopolis with the Hensley and Guy families.  The water level was still too low to get a boat into the water, so we spent our time playing at the beach and in the kiddie pool as a family.  Ledger enjoyed spending time with his cousins Jonas and Faith.  The kids tried to fish a few times but never caught anything.  On Monday, we had a family fish fry followed by a Memorial Day family walk.

Ledger got tired of riding his bike, so his brother pushed!

The beginning of June is always River Festival fun.  We spent two weeks searching for the Festival medallion, but once again, we weren't successful.  It's always a fun search though.  We really enjoyed spending the Festival with the Perkins, Guy, and Hensley families.  In sticking with tradition, we participated in the Festival Five Races. Uncle Josh ran the 5 mile but the rest of us walked the 2 mile route.  Then the kids ran their races.  Again, we were very proud of Ledger who ran the whole race and had a great time.  He finished 5th in his age group.  Ronan also ran in the 4 year old race and we were proud that he ran the whole race too!  Kinley did great in her age group.  She was ahead of the pack by 20+ feet but then the cheering crowd made her nervous and she turned around and ran in the wrong direction!  LOL. The crowd thought it was hilarious.  She ended up in third.