Winter Park, CO – A Research Report

*This week, my third grade daughter came home and showed me her latest writing piece. They had to choose a favorite place or space in Colorado and write about it. She chose Winter Park because it is one of her favorite places. We just might have a family full of travel writers! I am sharing this here with her permission.

Winter Park

Are you looking for a place in the great state Colorado?  The location of Winter park is Winter Park, Colorado 80482. In the winter there is ice skating and skiing. In Winter Park there usually is a lot of snow. Maybe that will be your first white Christmas. You can always go sledding on a hill. The population of Winter Park is 946. Winter Park’s mountain elevation is 9,100 feet. It takes one hour and a half to get there from Denver, Colorado to Winter Park, Colorado. In the summer there is the alpine slide and mini golf. Winter Park has great skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing in the winter. Winter Park has amazing mountains. There is some really nice mountains. My favorite part of the mountain is called Jack Kendrik. My favorite restaurant is by a place where you ski. It is Goody’s Creperie.  I’d prefer Winter Park if you want all that stuff. I think if you are looking for a mountain paradise and awesome condos than Winter Park is the place for you.

 

Road Trips – Through the Eyes of an 11 Year Old

*Recently, my son had to write a personal narrative for his language arts course. He chose to write about our summer road trip and how it affected him. I am posting this here with his permission.

Road Trips

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Road trips are the best thing ever, especially this one. My sister, my mom, my grandma, my three cousins, and I went on a road trip this summer. We planned to visit Tucson, Arizona, see the Four Corners, and explore Mesa Verde National Park but we didn’t know our trip would take a detour. Road trips give you the chance to learn interesting facts, see new places, and learn new things about yourself.

First, we decided we were going to go on a road trip and it was the longest one I’ve been on. We got packed up, got into the car, and then we took off. We all knew that it was going to be a long drive to Tucson, Arizona but we didn’t know how hot we would get. After a while we were all sweating. We were asking to turn the air up. Even when the air was all the way up it was still pretty hot.This weather was very different than the weather in Colorado. Then we started to run into some Saguaro cacti. It got everybody’s attention. We learned that a fifteen foot Saguaro cactus is a hundred years old and that is when they grow their first arms. This was the most interesting fact I learned about Saguaro cacti.

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When it was time to leave Tucson, my mom and grandma were looking on a map and they saw we were close to the Grand Canyon. “Hey, does anyone want to stop at the Grand Canyon? It will be four hours out of our way,” mom said. My cousins and I looked at each other and had the same idea. “Yes! But does it have to be so far away?” we said. We were all so excited to get there and we were all impatient. When we arrived I wondered how big it would be. I learned a little bit at school about how big it was but never saw it in person. We were almost there. Just a few more steps. As I stared I was in awe about how amazing the sight in front of me was. I was so glad I got to see this new place.

Of course, the extra hours that were on our trip made us tired but the trip there was worth it. As I stood in front of the Grand Canyon, I felt happy that we had made the stop. At first, I wanted to say no but then I realized you should take the opportunities while you can. You don’t know when you are going to do something like this again. It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Choosing to stop at the Grand Canyon made me realize that I should take chances while I can.

My favorite part of the trip was hanging with my cousins, learning about the Saguaro cacti, and seeing things that I’ve not seen before. The Grand Canyon was way bigger than I thought it would be. We had a great time, not to mention, saw some amazing things. I am so glad my family stopped at the Grand Canyon or we would have missed something amazing. Next time you go on a road trip take the opportunities.

Aventura Clothing Fall Favorites for Travel

*As an ambassador, I receive three outfits from Aventura Clothing. I loved the line before I became an ambassador and spend a large amount of my paycheck on Aventura clothing! Aventura is offering 25% off any purchase from Aventura using the code AMBF25. I also have five one time discount codes for 60% off of the original prices up to $250. I will give a code to the first five people who comment on this post. What are you waiting for? Head over there and place your order!

When I am packing my suitcase for travel, I keep a few things in mind:

Will the item look like it was balled up in a corner for three weeks when I pull it out of my suitcase at my destination?

Does the item weigh too much?

Can I wear the item for casual and dressy events if need be?

Does the item match several other things that I am bringing with me?

I used to pack whatever I wanted without putting too much thought into my choices, but now I find myself wanting to pack as lightly as possible with items that will serve me well on the trip. I also find myself reaching for my favorite Aventura pieces. So much so that my suitcase looks like I am planning for an Aventura catalog shoot at my destination!

These are a few of my favorite Aventura pieces from the Fall/Winter line:

 

Nova Reversible Skirt in Heather Gray

Nova Reversible Skirt
I chose this skirt as part of my ambassador order but I loved it so much, I turned around and ordered it in the black. The skirt is reversible, which means that it can get a little dirty and I can still wear it during my travels (though I try not to do that!). It also means that I can wear the one skirt more than one way while I travel and the people I am traveling with won’t be any wiser. Note that the black skirt has a hint of color in the design. I can’t quite tell what it is (beige?) but it is not black and white. I wore it with the Romy top and it made the coloring appear pink.
Romy Top in Dark Purple
Romy Top
This has to be the softest top in the entire collection. I love the lightweight rayon jersey and it can be rolled up neatly in the suitcase. I do believe that this top runs a little on the big side.
Upton Sweater in Winetasting
Upton Sweater

 

This sweater is light enough that it won’t weigh down your luggage but it is heavy enough to keep you warm on those cool fall nights. I love that it is dressy enough for a night out but can also pair with jeans for a casual afternoon.

Savona Infinity Scarf in Petrol

Savona Infinity Scarf

Scarves have become my favorite travel accessory. They are easy to pack and dress up an outfit. I love the coloring in this scarf. I have worn it with the Nova Reversible skirt as well as a pair of jeans and a cute top. Aventura has all sorts of scarves from some that provide warmth to some lighter weight scarves that are more for accessorizing.

The Bellagio is a Cut Above the Rest

Bellagio Fountains

When planning a surprise trip to Vegas for our 15th wedding anniversary, I went back and forth with where I should stay. Which hotel had the best amenities for us at the right price?

After much research, I decided to book the Bellagio. It cost me about $200 a night but it included an $80 food credit. This made the cost for two nights a little bit easier to swallow.

We arrived in Vegas, caught our ride to the hotel, and stood in line to check in. It was about midnight and we were surprised to find the line practically out the door. It didn’t move very quickly but we were able to take in the sites of the lobby while we waited.

Bellagio

When it was finally our turn, we were informed that all that was left was a smoking optional room. AKA, there is a 100% chance that people have smoked in your room. I called a week ahead of time to inform the Bellagio that we were going to be a late check in so that this would not happen.

Womp, womp.

It was 1am at this point. We had worked all day long, spent the evening at the airport and had a late flight. We were tired and ready to crash so we took the room with the assurance that we would be able to switch it out the next day.

We woke up the next day and decided to switch rooms because the smoke smell was pretty terrible. We waited in a much shorter line (apparently most of the casino goers were still sleeping at 10am!) and were informed that our new room would be ready after 2pm and that we were given a food credit for our troubles.

Bellagio

After a few hours of exploring, it was time to get the new room keys BUT…

It may come as no surprise to you that the line was out the door. Again.

We went up to our room and called to cancel the room change. I just couldn’t bear to stand in that line again after walking around in the heat of the desert sun. Much to our surprise, they offered to change the key remotely. We packed up our stuff and headed up to the much nicer smelling room (with a better view!).

Shortly after we dropped our stuff, a knock at the door sounded. We opened it and were surprised with a box filled with nine of the most delectable chocolates I have ever tasted. It was a little anniversary gift from the Bellagio.

Bellagio

In addition to the amazing service, we also enjoyed the fountain show. It was much shorter than we expected but it was every bit as lovely as we thought it would be.

Despite our initial difficulties, the Bellagio has earned a life-long customer. If we ever make a trip back to Vegas, the Bellagio will be the first place we will look to book.

Two Hours in Grand Canyon National Park

Two hours at the Grand Canyon? That seems a bit ridiculous for a national park that is 215 miles and takes five hours to drive between the North and South Rims.

But what do you do when you have a massive road trip planned out perfectly and on the morning of day 3, you realize that the Grand Canyon is only two hours out of your way?

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You reroute the GPS of course!

We had a tight itinerary that was more driving than sightseeing. On day one, we drove from Denver, Colorado to Tucson, Arizona. We spent the next day visiting family and then it was time to continue on. The original plan was to leave Tucson and drive to Mesa Verde National Park, while stopping at the Four Corners. While looking at a map, it was obvious that the Grand Canyon was only a couple of hours away so we did some quick research.

We rerouted the GPS to take us from Tucson, Arizona to the South Rim Entrance.

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Our drive through the Grand Canyon was quite literally that: a drive through the Grand Canyon. We didn’t have time for leisurely hikes or picnics. We were there to gape at the giant hole in the ground, snap some pictures and continue through the park to an east exit near Cameron.

So how did we fare?

We were glad that we added the Grand Canyon to our itinerary at the last minute. How could we be so close and not stop? After we left the Grand Canyon and continued driving, all of the older kids on our trip (we had a 13 year old, 2 ten year olds, an 8 year old and a 3 year old) proclaimed the Grand Canyon to be the best stop on our road trip. That made it worth it.

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Here are a few tips that we learned along the way if you only have a couple of hours in the Grand Canyon:

Fill up your car with gas before driving into the park entrance. This gave us a peace of mind because we had no idea what was on the other side!

Stop and take pictures when you want to stop and take pictures. You only have an hour or two and you are not going to want to turn around.

Stop at the visitor center but plan to spend some time. We decided to stop at the visitor center to pick up Junior Ranger books, use the restroom and stretch our legs. Parking at the visitor center is a premium and you might have to drive around for a little while. It can also be quite a walk to the center depending on where you have to park. While at the visitor center, we spoke to a ranger and found out how to exit the park so we were headed in the right direction. We also explored the exhibits. There is a water bottle filling station as well as plenty of restrooms and a shop. You can walk around the visitor center to Mather Point where you will get your first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. This is also one of the most crowded spots. We snapped a few pictures and headed down the road.

From the South Rim to the Cameron exit, there were plenty of places to stop and take pictures. Before we went, a friend told us to skip all the touristy places and just make the drive if we didn’t have the time. She was right. We could have stopped at the visitor center, used the restroom, and hit the road. We would have still seen the majestic views that the Grand Canyon has to offer.

If you are making the trip from Tucson to Mesa Verde National Park, be aware that adding the Grand Canyon on to your itinerary will make you arrive in Mesa Verde long after dark. With two hours at the Grand Canyon and minimal stops along the way we arrived after 10:00 at night. Because of this, Four Corners was closed when we arrived. The next day we had to tack two more hours on to our itinerary to make the drive to Four Corners and back.

Summer Ski Resort Activities at Copper Mountain Resort

Copper Mountain Ski Resort in the summertime? Yes, please.

Copper Mountain in the Summer

I still have the Copper Mountain t-shirt that my husband brought home to me. I was six months pregnant with our now 10 year old son and my husband went on a boy’s ski trip weekend. They loved Copper Mountain and we have since visited it a couple of times in the winter time. We have driven past it in the summertime but decided to take the time to visit this summer when Copper Mountain invited us up to try out their Summer Activity Passes.

Included in the pass was access to three bungee, one zip line and one go-kart session, unlimited access to mini golf, bike haul, diggler (scooters), scenic chair, lake activities and the climbing wall.

Copper Mountain

We arrived around ten in the morning and easily found parking. After we parked, we stopped by guest services to pick up our tickets, courtesy of Copper Mountain. You can purchase individual tickets but by the time you add them up, it will most likely make sense to buy the adventure pass.

We wandered from activity to activity having a blast. We were lucky to be there during the week so while there were crowds, we did not find ourselves waiting in line for more than a minute or two.

Copper Mountain

Our first activity was the bungee jump. The guys working the bungee jump were by far the most friendly group we encountered. They made sure that the kids enjoyed their time and also helped them to conquer some of their fears about jumping higher or trying to do a flip.

After the bungee jump, the kids spent awhile soaking each other on the bumper boats. They also raced around the go-kart track, and zipped across the lake. They were able to get a couple holes in at the putt-putt course but the sky turned black quickly and the rain started pouring.

At this point, we decided to call it a day, but we could have easily stayed for a couple more hours. We will definitely be back.

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Things to Know Before You Go:

Do adults need a ticket? Yes, and no. The only thing that my husband did was ride the go-karts. Even then, the only reason he did that was because my daughter was too small to go by herself. Check the height requirements and decide if you are going to need a ticket to participate. If we went back, we would definitely save some money by not purchasing tickets for the adults.

But I want to ride the lift up to the top. Copper offers free lift tickets for each $12 spent in the village. Grab a snack and then use the receipt to get up to the top to see the views.

Plan to arrive right when the activities open. Storms are common in the mountains. If they see lightning, activities will shut down until 30 minutes after that last seen strike. If it is raining hard enough, many of the activities shut down with or without lightning.

*Thank you to Copper Mountain for providing us with Summer Activity Passes. All opinions are mine.

Can You Plan a Surprise Trip and Keep it a Secret?

A couple of months ago, I had this crazy idea to surprise my husband with a 36 hour trip to Las Vegas for our 15th wedding anniversary. It had been quite some time since we went away together and my brother-in-law offered to watch the kids. I watched the sales, booked the trip, and all that was left was to keep it a secret until it was time to go.

Consider how you will fund the trip. This part was easy for me. I have gone back to work and had been putting away some money so I knew what kind of budget I wanted to stick to. I am also in charge of the bills. My husband is very much aware of our bills and financial situation but he doesn’t micromanage the day to day side of it. I knew he wasn’t likely to check the credit card statements online. If he did, I hoped that he just wouldn’t notice. If you are planning a surprise trip, how are you going to hide it from the person you are surprising? If you are surprising your child, this will be easy but if you are surprising a significant other who usually takes care of the finances, this might prove to be a bit more difficult. Also, consider your financial situation and what the other person will say. This is supposed to be a fun trip for you and the person you are surprising. It would definitely ruin things if your significant other asks how much you spent on it before you even leave the house.

Consider how you will feel if you can’t keep the surprise. After the trip was all booked, I told pretty much everyone I knew who did not talk to my husband on a regular basis. For the most part, I wasn’t worried about other people spilling the beans. I was more worried about spilling the beans myself! As it turns out, I was able to keep the secret until my husband told me two weeks before the trip that he had to go out of town for business and wouldn’t be back until the night we were supposed to leave. I quickly told him that if he had to go he had to be back three hours before our flight time. I told him he had to be at the airport waiting for me because we were going out of town. I stopped there with details but boy was it painful keeping it a secret once he learned a little piece of it.

Consider when and how you will tell the person about the trip. I had this whole plan where I was going to pack my husband’s bag, my brother-in-law was going to show up, and we were going to supposedly go out on a date night. I was going to drive us to the airport and then share the surprise. Of course, that all went by the wayside when I had to tell him about the trip. Since he knew we were taking a plane somewhere, I took him to the airport and we wandered around until about thirty minutes until our flight. Once it was time to board, we stopped in front of the Vegas sign and I told him that was where we were going.

Consider whether to plan the entire trip or leave some of it open ended. I planned the date, transportation, hotel, and person to watch the kids. I left everything else open. There are some pros and cons to this. The obvious pro is that your travel partner will have a say in the plans and you can make plans together. The biggest con to this method is that if there is something that requires reservations or early reservations, you might miss out. I really wanted to see the Neon Museum at night but I wasn’t sure that it would be the way my husband wanted to spend our one full evening in Vegas so I didn’t book it. Tickets sold out and it turns out that he would have enjoyed it. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Have you ever planned a surprise trip? Share your tips with us!

Rocky Mountain National Park in 4 Hours or Less from the Grand Lake Entrance Station

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park has so much to offer visitors from animal sightings, hiking trails, and pretty drives. Four hours just isn’t enough time to do the park justice but if you only have a few hours and you still want to see Rocky Mountain National Park, it is doable.

Start your morning early and try to be at the entrance by 7 or 8am. We were staying the night at the Winter Park Resort so we chose to enter through the Grand Lake entrance. It took us about 50 minutes from Winter Park and would have taken us a little over 2 hours from our home in Denver. There is a visitor’s center just outside the entrance where you can stop for information. We chose to skip this visitor’s center because we were headed to the Alpine Visitor Center off of Trail Ridge Road.

moose at RMNP
Planning an early morning will increase your chances to see some wildlife looking for their breakfast. We weren’t in the park for five minutes before we spotted a moose in a meadow. There were actually three. We saw two males and one female with a baby! We were too far away to make out any features on the baby moose but we were able to see it bound around in the grass while the mama moose tried to get her breakfast.

RMNP
After watching the moose, we continued on along the Trail Ridge Road. We stopped at a couple of pull offs. Each pull off had a couple of park rangers or volunteers to answer questions. We stopped to take in views and to stand at the Continental Divide.

Alpine Visitor Center
Once we reached the Alpine Visitor Center, we parked and explored the visitor center and spoke with rangers. There are restrooms here as well as a shop and a small cafeteria. There is a short trail up many stairs but the views make the walk up worth it. When you visit, stop at the shop and pick up some Huckleberry Gummi Bears. They were a hit with my kids who needed a snack.

alpine visitor center
From here, we headed back down to Winter Park. On the way back, we spotted a herd of deer and several elk sunning themselves. The entire round trip took about four hours. We will definitely be going back to spend some more time but I am glad that we got a little taste of what Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.

alpine visitor center
Tips for spotting wildlife:

Don’t speed through the park. The speed limits are there for a reason and if you are going too fast, you will miss the beauty surrounding you.

Look for other cars that are stopped. You will want to keep an eye out for stopped cars because they don’t always pull off of the road but also because this is usually a sign that there is wildlife (or something to see) nearby.

Look up! We caught three elk sunning themselves up on a hill. We would have driven right past them had we not been looking all over.

Indoor Skydiving at iFly Denver

If you can’t tell from this blog, I am not what most would call incredibly adventurous. I try but my idea of adventurous does not match up with other people’s idea of adventurous. Sure, I like to step outside of my comfort zone every now and again but step outside of a perfectly good airplane? Um, no.

When I first visited the mall area that is closest to us, I noticed a funny shaped building. I saw that it was an indoor skydiving place and it immediately went on our list of things to do. We haven’t had a chance to get there yet but hopefully we will be able to check it off of our list this summer.

If you are in Denver and are interested in trying it out for yourself, you can save 10% off the cost.

Indoor Skydiving iFly Denver is a fun birthday celebration venue for all ages! They offer exhilaration coupled with the freedom of flight in our one-of-kind, World Class facility. Anyone from 3 to 103 can fly!

You can give a child the birthday of a lifetime, a unique celebration for that over the hill party, or any other special occasion. Birthday party packages can include a total of 24 minutes of tunnel time, good for up to 12 people, flight training class, flight gear, and flight rotations with your certified instructor. All participants receive a souvenir flight certificate. This entire flight experience takes about one and a half hours. Add-ons available such as: iFly Denver T-shirts, and catering.

Prices:

Earn Your Wings – $59.95 (1 Flyer 2 Flights)

Spread your Wings – $109.95 (1 Flyer 4 Flights)

Spread your Wings for 2 $129.95 (2 Flyer 2 Flights Each)

Family Pack – $269.95 (5 Flyers 10 Flights + Video)

Get a load of this!

Travel Bingo Laura Kelly Designs Printable


Road trips with kids can make parents a little nutty but with a little proper planning, a road trip can be a lot of fun for everyone. While I am not against electronics in the car, I try to make sure that we have lots of different activities. If the car ride is going to be more than a couple of hours, my husband and I make sure the kids pack a bag with toys, books, and other things that will entertain them.

Often, I will throw in a few fun surprises by hitting the interwebs to find some printables that I can put together in a folder. They include crossword puzzles, word searches, travel bingo and more. The travel bingo was always a disaster though! I would print off the cards and they would all be the same so the kids would win at the same time.

Laura Kelly Auto Bingo
Enter Laura Kelly printables. Laura Kelly’s shop has all these great printables that help you throw a party, make your own checkers game, and drumroll please…a make your own travel bingo card. Laura gave me a copy of the printable so that I could give it a try.

Laura Kelly Design Auto Bingo
The Travel Bingo Printable can be purchased through Laura Kelly Designs shop. Once you have purchased and downloaded it, you can print it for use. Once you have printed your copy, have your kids spend a few minutes creating their own special bingo card by cutting out the things to look for and gluing them on the card. This will make sure that everybody’s card is different and everybody has a hand in creating it will make the kids excited to play.

Laura Kelly Auto Bingo
We will be hitting the road soon. The trip is going to be a doozy! My mom and I are taking five cousins in the car for about 27 hours total. We will definitely need something to do! My kids created Bingo cards for all of the cousins and they are so excited to share. The best way to make the cards last the whole trip is to laminate them (either yourself or take them to an office supply store) so that they can be used over and over again.

You can find the Laura Kelly Auto Bingo card for $1.99 in her shop.

*Thanks to Laura for providing me with the file so that we can try out her printables. Check out this amazing 4th of July party created with her Patriotic Party Printables.

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