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.

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.


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!

It’s as Easy as Riding a Bike

“It’s as easy as riding a bike,” she said.

We had spent the last twenty minutes strolling from the streets of the Old Market in Omaha, Nebraska to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.  The plan was to walk across the bridge so that we could stand in two states at once. The bridge crosses the Missouri River and connects Omaha, Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Smack dab in the middle of the Missouri River is the state line and it is celebrated by a plaque that highlights this line on the bridge. We were about to arrive at the foot of the bridge when my sister was distracted by a B Cycle station.

The B Cycle station is a bike sharing system. You pay to rent a bike and then you can return it within your allotted time to any station in town that has open spots. Marissa immediately tried to lure me into a bike ride back to the Old Market.

“Absolutely not,” I shrieked, “that is not going to happen.”

“Why not? Come on! It’s as easy as riding a bike,” she said.

As I tried to distract her with the excitement of standing in two states at once, I was thinking about the last time I rode a bike.

I had let my kids and husband push me into purchasing a beach cruiser and when we got it home, it was time to try it out. I hated every minute of it. It had been years since I had ridden a bike and I weighed a lot less then. I was uncomfortable, self-conscious, and I was having a very difficult time keeping up with my family. That was the last time I rode that bike and it collected dust until we gave it away.

Sixty pounds lost and a couple of years later, I find myself staring at the B Cycle station.

The bright blue bikes were mocking me. You can’t do this. You still need to lose 40 pounds. You put five pounds on since going back to work. You haven’t kept up your workout regimen. You will surely die when you can’t pedal fast enough across the street.

All of these things and more played through my head the whole time that we walked along the bridge. A couple of pictures later and a stroll back down to the foot of the bridge and we were staring at those darn blue bikes again.

“We are going to do this,” said Marissa as she read the directions on the pay station.

It looked like there was no way around it so I took the bike out of the docking station.

Beep, beep, beep. That was the sound of the second bike waiting at the ready.

I hopped on with little grace and pedaled around the flat sidewalk for a few minutes. I stumbled just once while we did a couple of turns in a nearby parking lot and then we were off.

“I probably look ridiculous, don’t I?” I yelled up to her, still worried about how I looked.

“You look like somebody who is having a great time,” she said over her shoulder.

That gave me pause. I could feel the smile set on my face. She was right. I was having a good time. I didn’t need to worry about what anyone else around me was thinking. I still have forty more pounds that I would like lose. None of this mattered. I was enjoying myself.

As we pedaled down the sidewalks, we both giggled like school girls. We were those tourists laughing out loud as we tried to snap a selfie (oh, yes we did).

And I felt like a little piece of myself was set free.

6 Reasons To Visit (or move to) Omaha, Nebraska!

Hello from Marissa, Two Kids’ East Coast Editor! Did you see the announcement that I am moving to Omaha, Nebraska!?! If not, now you know! In about a month I will be digging up my roots in Newport, Rhode Island and relocating to the grand city of Omaha, Nebraska. Now you can call me the Midwest Editor!

Omaha? you ask. Grand?

I would be remiss if I did not admit that I had the same reaction. We tell people where we are relocating to and they have the same reaction…Oh. Omaha. Why?

In our case, we don’t have much of a choice.  My husband’s job sends him where he is needed. However, we have met several past residents of Omaha and they speak only amazing things of the city. I was eager to find out why people loved Omaha and what it had to offer. After a week there house hunting, I now know. The place is PHENOMENAL.

Omaha Push Pins
Jen, of Two Kids, even flew out and joined me for a few days of my house hunting trip and we had a terrific time exploring. There is so much to see and do – a list of 6 things is not enough, but I will try nonetheless…

1. Omaha LOVES visitors.  Omahans are proud of their city and they are happy to share that pride with you.  The tourism center was closed the day we were down there, but I did learn from our new friends The Walking Tourists about the Nebraska Passport (really click that link, it’s a great resource). It’s an awesome guide to Nebraska, highlighting must see attractions, restaurants, etc. to visit while you’re in the state. Many of these places are local to Omaha. You receive a passport stamp each place you visit from the guide and you are able to keep track of your travels across the state. The passport can be picked up at any location that participates. I grabbed mine and received my first stamp at Hollywood Candy, definitely a must see! Visit Omaha is another resource you can’t miss out on.  Their site includes a plethora of things to do, calendars, and information.  Right now they are encouraging you to share pictures of your visits on Instagram using #omahaweekend.

Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge in Omha
2. The downtown area is bumpin’! Jen and I spent a day traveling all over downtown, in particular the Old Market area. People out shopping and dining made it clear how much they enjoy being a part of this community. The vibe is fantastic and you really feel the energy of the local artists and culinary masters. And because of reason #6, it is so easy to get anywhere without a major hassle.

3. Food, Food, Food!  I ate my way through Omaha in my 7 days and didn’t have a meal I didn’t like. Everything from the Upstream Brewing Company (12 beer flight!) to Mexican food at La Mesa in Bellevue (terrific cheese dip) to Stokes Grill and Bar (fantastic steak tacos and we had a blast bantering with our servers) to Spin! Neapolitan Pizza in Papillion. Trip Advisor has a list of 1,157 restaurants to choose from and I am elated to try as many as possible.

Stokes Bar and Grill Omaha
4. Attractions.  The pictures at the end of our trip were priceless.  Jen and I walked out to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge where we stood over the Missouri in both Nebraska and Iowa.  On a whim we rode B-Cycles from the bridge back to the Old Market. We spent a morning walking around the tranquil Lauritzen Gardens where they also happened to be holding a plant sale for a day.  I am saving the Omaha Zoo, apparently the best zoo in the world, for an outing when my whole family has relocated.

Omaha B Cycles and Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge
5. A smile around every turn. My realtor became my best friend (and not just because he was trying to sell me a house). I stopped in to get information from the school my kids will be attending in Plattsmouth and felt like I made new friends with all the administration (one of the principals lives in the neighborhood I’m buying in). Our servers at Stokes were helping me think of captions for my Instagram photos. We met up with fellow bloggers The Walking Tourists who shared a WEALTH of local information and places to see.  The ladies at my hotel front desk were telling me about different schools and areas to live in.  The cars on the freeway let me into their lane whenever I put my blinker on.  Seriously, every person I met in and around Omaha was so happy to just be plain nice and pleasant.  Okay, except for that one guy who honked behind me at that stop sign.  He must have just been traveling through town through. :)

6. It really does only take 20 minutes to get anywhere in Omaha. I drove around all hours of the day and night during my house hunting and tourism adventures. Never did I encounter any traffic. The infrastructure of Omaha and its surrounding cities is fantastic. The roads are wide, easily traversable, new in many areas, and clean!  Parking downtown was no where near a problem.  As a matter of fact, the parking pass we paid only $5 for was good until 6am the next day!  That is unheard of in most cities I have lived around!  Not Omaha.

Nebraska Tourism Passport
The memories I made this week will last a lifetime, but more importantly, I have a whole new outlook on our move to the Omaha area. Our family is going to thrive there. I don’t know if three years will be enough time for us to enjoy all this city has to offer but I am going to strive to make it happen!  Stay tuned and follow my Nebraska traveling to see what happens next!


5 Things to do in Newport, Rhode Island

rhode islandOver spring break, we flew from Denver to Providence, Rhode Island. Marissa, our East Coast Editor, has been living in Newport for the past year and is getting ready to head to Omaha, Nebraska for their next tour. I not only needed some serious sister time but I also wanted to see a part of the US that I haven’t seen before. We made all sorts of tentative plans to take lots of day trips but in the end we just decided to stay close to Newport. There certainly was plenty to do. Despite the sometimes cold and rainy weather, we spent much of our days wandering around Newport, stopping in shops, and eating our weight in seafood.

Cliff Walk

Take a stroll on the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk is a public access walk that meanders along the shoreline and takes you past some of the beautiful mansions that Newport is known for. We walked the part of the Cliff Walk that is all paved but I understand that there are some parts that are a bit rocky or sandy. It was early spring and Newport had just gotten a lot of snow. The Cliff Walk doesn’t seem to really be maintained when it snows. Be aware that if it is snowy, there will not be a way for you to pass with a stroller. I also read that in the summertime, you need to be aware of poison ivy that grows along some areas of the path. The views are great and the walk is lovely at any time of the day.

Breakers Mansion

Tour a mansion. We chose to tour The Breakers, one of the most famous mansions in Newport, on the same day that we were strolling the Cliff Walk. You have to exit off the walk and enter through a paid entrance. The Breakers offers a great family tour that kept my kids interested the entire time. My son loved to spot the things that the tour guide (who is also the house!) asked us to find and my daughter was fascinated (and a bit disgusted) with what and where women and girls were allowed and not allowed to do and go. Another tour that was recommended by my sister is the Elms.

Castle Hill

Eat at the Castle Hill Inn. Oh, the views! So, for this adventure, I recommend leaving the kids at home. We were able to have a night away and though we did see one family dining, I don’t think I would take my kids. We also went during restaurant week and our meal was much less expensive than it would have been on a regular night. The Lawn offers drinks and small plates. Did I mention that the views are worth it?


Eat a stuffie (a quahog). I did mention that we ate our weight in seafood right? The clam chowder, the lobster rolls…I could have eaten seafood the entire trip. On our last day, my sister bought some stuffies and made me try one. It is a clam, breadcrumbs, spices, bell pepper, and celery all stuffed into the clam shell and then baked. They were pretty tasty.

castle hill

Wander Thames Street and the Downtown Area. Stop in at the many shops and pick up a little souvenir. Some fudge will be the perfect treat after your long walk. We spent quite some time smelling soaps at the Newport Sea Foam Trading Co. Inpopnito is supposed to have near perfect popcorn but unfortunately we didn’t get to find out for ourselves because they weren’t open when we visited.

What is your favorite thing to do in Newport, RI?

Copper Mountain in the Summer

When we first moved to Colorado, we moved in November. Smack dab at the beginning of winter. Did I mention we moved from Florida where winter is like four days long? One of my friends told me that people come to Colorado for the winter and stay for the summer.

I have found that the longer I stay here, the more I love winter. I love to go to the ski towns but we still haven’t visited the ski towns in the summertime. This summer, I hope to spend a lot of time exploring the mountain towns in the summer and Copper Mountain is one of them.

Copper is amazing in the winter time and I can only imagine how great it is in the summertime. I am looking forward to taking the chairlift up so that I can do some hiking on those hills that we have skied down. Did you know that the chairlift is free when you spend $12 in the village? And kids under 12 are free, too. There are so many other things that you can do like zipline, play minigolf, ride gokarts, and more.

My personal favorite is to visit Sugar Lips Mini Donuts. I recommend the S’mores donuts. I sure hope Sugar Lips is open in the summertime, too! I think it will be the perfect place to stop after a morning of hiking.

It’s the best deal for families in Colorado! The revised pricing for 2015 is $49 per day and $109 for a season pass.

Activities open 10:00am-5:00pm Sun-Friday and Sat 10:00am-7:00pm. The summer activities will open June 12, 2015.

It is Going to Be a Colorado Summer

herman gulch1

In August, I went back to work full-time as a teacher librarian. At the same time, my husband switched jobs and is working much longer days. Because of this, we feel like we have become the perfect example of those people working for the weekend and we haven’t been able to do much traveling.

Part of that is work and life but part of it is my fault. I am just so tired at the end of the week that the last thing I can think about is traveling and coming home to a dirty house, an empty fridge, and a work week ahead of me. I have vowed to be much better during the school year but first, summer will be upon us soon!

Over the past month or so, we have been dreaming up some big plans for the summer. First, we talked about going to the Grand Canyon but then we realized we waited too long to book and everywhere we wanted to stay was booked solid. Next, we found some great ticket prices for flights to California. I grew up in SoCal and we talked about showing the kids my old stomping grounds. A few other ideas were thrown into the mix but in the end we decided that there is just so much of Colorado that we haven’t seen.

Enter the Colorado Summer! We are going to spend lots of summer weekends taking shorter trips around Colorado.

We are so excited to explore more of this awesome state. Some of the things on our list include Mesa Verde, the Sand Dunes (again!), and the Maroon Bells. We will go hiking and camping and spend some time in Estes Park.

Where should we go? What should we do? Share your ideas with us and help us plan our summer of Colorado itinerary.

Hiking a Colorado 14er with Kids

Winter is still upon us but I am thinking about the hiking that I am going to do this spring and summer. I have a date with a mountain. A mountain that bested me in July of 2014.


It was a lofty goal. And I don’t mean for my kids. I was more worried about myself on the trip up a 14er.

Colorado 14ers are mountains that are above 14,000 feet. There are over 50 14ers in Colorado and they rank from a drive up the road to a rigorous hike to a mountain climb. We picked Mt. Bierstadt, a 14er that is known for being a great first timer hike.

And by first timer hike, they mean a hiker who hikes the heck out of trails but has never hit a 14er. Not a first time hiker.


We prepared well. We researched the heck out of it. We felt ready. We weren’t naive about this adventure. We knew it was going to take anywhere from 5-10 hours, depending on our speed. We knew that it was going to be a 7 mile hike round trip. We knew we were going to have to pack snacks, lunch, and enough water. We knew we were going to have to leave our house before the sun came up.


We also didn’t know much about this adventure. These are a few things I learned on my first hike up a 14er:

Only about 5% (okay, maybe 15%) of athletic people are still athletic at 14,000 feet. As we trudged up the trail, we saw everybody catching their breath and taking breaks. Once we hit a certain point, we started playing the passing game with people. We would pass a group and then that group would pass us a few feet later. You eventually get to a point where you are hiking with the same group. There were hundreds of people hiking Mt. Bierstadt at the same time we were. Sometimes, we felt pushed up the mountain.

Mt. Bierstadt is an easy 14er but that is an oxymoron because 14ers are not easy. This is not a leisurely stroll through the woods. It is quite possibly one of the most difficult things I have ever done. You are climbing up hill for at least three hours straight (maybe less if you are more athletic than I am). Then you have to climb all the way back down.


Be ready to turn around. The only competition you have is with yourself. You still have to hike all the way back down the mountain to your car. The trip down often proves to be more difficult. You can always go back and try again. Be safe and listen to your body.

When they say to be at the peak of the 14er by 11am, listen. The storms roll in at approximately 12:01pm like clockwork. We were about halfway back to the car when the storms came in and it was scary at times. Next time, we will leave much earlier in the morning so that we are done well before noon.


Altitude sickness is no joke and everybody in your group should be watched carefully for it. With the exception of my house hunting trip to Denver right before we moved here, I haven’t really experienced altitude sickness. We spend a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains and I haven’t experienced altitude sickness there. I was hit hard by it on our hike. I don’t know if it is the level of activity or if I wasn’t drinking enough water, but I was so dizzy at times that I had to stop and take a break.

This was eventually what led to my Mt. Bierstadt hiking demise. That, and my daughter decided she was done. We almost made it but we both knew that we had enough. We knew that the clock was catching up with us and we were worried that we wouldn’t make it back to the car before the dangerous storms came in. My daughter and I took a short break, had a snack, and started the hike back down. My son and husband continued up to the top and had just enough time to snap a quick picture and head back down. They were so fast that they actually caught up to us.

We almost made it!

We almost made it!

I am ready to conquer this mountain again come this summer.

Sunday Family Pajama Brunch at Keystone

We have visited a lot of the ski resorts within an hour or two driving distance of the front range of Colorado and we love each of them for different reasons. We haven’t found one that is as family friendly and kid centered as Keystone Ski Resort.

I am a huge advocate of going places because I want to and I know that my children will be just fine. I don’t need a place that caters to my kids but, sometimes, it is nice to be able to sit back and relax while the kids enjoy their kid-centered activities. Keystone Ski Resort is a pro at doing this.

Bighorn Brunch at Keystone

At Keystone, kids are king.

Bighorn Bistro and Bar Sunday Family Pajama Brunch was one of our favorite meals during our weekend stay at Keystone. The restaurant is located in the Keystone Lodge and Spa. Parking is across the street and easy to find. There is an underground tunnel that you use to get to the other side of the busy road.

The minute you walk into the Keystone Lodge and Spa, you are hit with the smells of breakfast. The Sunday Family Pajama Brunch was so much fun. There are two separate buffet bars set up – one for the kids and one for the adults. We started our breakfast in the main dining room together as a family. Brunch choices included items like bagels, made to order omelettes, stuffed french toast, and more. The kids’ brunch table had so many pancake toppings that my kids came to the table with a breakfast that looked more like dessert! Luckily, there were lots of healthy choices, too.


After eating with us, the kids headed into the Littlehorn Dining Room where there were able to watch the Polar Express and create some crafts. They made picture frames, wooden airplanes, and drew pictures. They painted, crafted, and enjoyed some time while we spent some quiet time watching the skaters on the ice rink and the snow fall.


You might even get a chance to see Riperoo and some of his friends.


Did we forget to mention the bottomless mimosa and bloody mary bar?

*Thank you to Keystone for hosting some of our activities. All opinions are my own.

Winter Park Scenic Snowcat Tours

I have said over and over that before we moved to Denver, I thought ski resorts were for skiing. I hadn’t spent much time at ski resorts and didn’t realize how much the offer for the non-skier. For the past couple of years, I have tried to find time to take a snowcat tour but I just couldn’t justify the cost for the whole family and didn’t really want to go by myself.

Winter Park snowcat tour

This Christmas, my mom was in town and we spent some time in Winter Park, CO for the holidays. I decided that this was the perfect excuse to take a snowcat tour and we made a girl’s day out of it. Because we wanted to take the tour on Christmas Eve, we booked a couple of weeks in advance but you can book up until the day of if there is space available. If your time in Winter Park is limited and you don’t want to miss out, book in advance.

The tour begins in the Balcony House where you sign a waiver and then head outside to pile into the snowcat. Tours hold 13 passengers and the seating did not feel cramped. As the snowcat climbs the mountain, the driver will share some facts about the snowcat and history of the mountain.

Winter Park Snowcat tour

If you are a beginner skier or if you avoid the slopes, the snowcat tour is a great way to see a part of the mountain that you might never get to see. The snowcat tour takes you up to the Sunspot Lodge and the views are amazing. You will have thirty minutes to walk around, snap some pictures or grab a quick bite to eat. If you choose to stay longer than the thirty minutes, you can take the Zephyr chairlift down.

Winter Park Snowcat tour

Things to Know Before You Go:

Cost: $49 per person

Dress: Wear your winter gear. You don’t need your goggles or your ski helmet, but you will want your snow pants and snow boots. You will be at the top of the mountain trudging around in the snow. You will want to layer though because the snowcat gets hot!