Great Wolf Lodge, Colorado Springs – April 2017

Spring break was mostly taken up with the kids’ separate activities (science camp for Owen, and Lily’s school trip to DC), but I thought we could at least squeeze in a quick mini-vaca at the end of it.

Just before moving from Colorado Springs, it was announced that Great Wolf Lodge was taking over the abandoned hotel on the north side of town. I had been wanting to try one out for a while, at least now I wouldn’t feel so guilty about staying there, if I didn’t live just down the street, lol! So it seemed like a good choice for our quick getaway. Especially since we are all looking forward to water-park season, but it’s still two months away at Water World.

Friday was Owen’s last day of camp, and since it would be easier to head straight to Colorado Springs from the museum in Denver, Brian took a half-day off work and we spend the afternoon at the museum while Owen finished his camp. We saw the Dream Big Imax movie, and explored the Animal Halls, as the museum was far too crowded to attempt any of the more interactive exhibits.

A snowstorm was expected this afternoon, and worried a bit about the trip over Monument Hill, I made Brian drive, much to his annoyance, ha! However, it would be known as the April Fools snowstorm, as it never quite materialized. So we had a dry, but agonizingly slow and traffic-filled drive.

Luckily, the check-in line wasn’t too long (the next day it wound all the way through the lobby, so glad we got there tonight!). The kids, of course, wanted to try out the water park immediately. So we agreed to a short swim before dinner. Oh, and the room was very cute. It had a separate area for the kids with bunk beds, themed to look like a woodland retreat. They had both been “wolf-ears” at check-in, which, surprisingly, they wore for much of the trip.

The waterpark had several sections. There was a large structure called Fort Mackenzie, filled with all sorts of splashy things and small slides. Underneath, there was a pretty normal pool, and a Lily Pad crossing, that Owen really enjoyed doing. There was also a wave pool, though of course the waves were not as impressive as Thunder Bay at Water World. Then there were four large slides, that required walking up several flights of stairs. Owen was only tall enough for two of them, still needing just over an inch for the others.

My favorite slide was Alberta Falls. It’s an enclosed slide that you ride down on a tube (they have singles and doubles). It was fast! Reminded me a lot of the River Country tube rides at Water World, also my favorites there. Lily and I rode together several times, and Owen with Brian.

It was after 7pm already, so we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. After some discussion, we decided to stay at the hotel to eat. Brian wanted to eat at Barnwood, but the wait was too long, so we settled for the Loose Moose buffet. It ended up being pretty good, actually.

The kids finished before us, so they headed off to the MagiQuest store to pick out their wands. The hotel has an interactive game played throughout several of the floors, using a magic wand to collect items needed to battle a dragon. Owen picked out a wand with a dragon on top, while Lily’s had a unicorn horn.

Lily and I started our quest, but after collecting a couple of items, we were tired and headed back to the room to get ready for bed. The boys stayed out much longer, and therefore made much more progress. Oh well. A constant issue at the hotel was the elevators, they are not nearly enough to handle to load and always had long lines and waits. So, for the game it was far more practical, but exhausting, to use the stairs.

Finally all tucked into bed, I hoped we would sleep in the next morning. It really didn’t need to be April Fools Day for me to know that wouldn’t happen, lol! At least we beat the rush down to breakfast (same restaurant as last night, but we had free vouchers for breakfast here).

We wanted to try out some of the non-water activities this morning, and headed to the ropes course first. We had gone by it the day before on our way to the pool, I I thought it looked like fun. Which surprised Brian, because he thought I would be too afraid! It isn’t the kind of thing I would normally do willingly, lol!

Well, it hadn’t looked bad from the ground, but once I was up there, yikes! Standing on the first platform, I suddenly didn’t know if I could do it at all, and almost bolted right back down the stairs. Eventually I gathered up my courage, thinking maybe I could get through one or two routes, just to say I had done it. It DID get easier though. Of course, I was clinging to harness with both hands for much of it (which Brian claimed was cheating, I told him I was doing well to be up there at all!).

I finally decided that I didn’t like the routes that were only rope, but the ones that had some sort of solid beam or blocks weren’t too bad. Still a bit of an adrenaline rush!

We played a round of mini-golf afterwards. The course was pretty easy and fun, with giant holes, which made sinking putts feel sinfully easy, lol! Owen and I each got a hole-in-one even.

We had decided to wait until after lunch to swim, and weren’t quite hungry yet, so we hung out in the room for a bit, then I think we may have spent another hour or so on our dragon quests. Barnwood wasn’t as busy today, so we had lunch there. It was okay, but overall I didn’t find any of the food here to be all that impressive.

After lunch, it was time to hit the water park again. Unfortunately, it was a LOT busier than it had been last night. The afternoons are probably the prime-time anyway, and I think a lot of people had just checked in that morning. So we didn’t do the slides much, as the lines were too long.

But we had fun just hanging out in the pool, and stopped for a snack at the pool-side snackbar at some point.

We had made plans to meet up with Brian’s family for dinner, so we left the pool around 5pm to get ready. We were hoping to go to Colorado Mountain Brewery, which was in the same parking lot as the hotel. but when I tried to call ahead for a party of 11, I was told “That’s not happening tonight”, lol! Fortunately, On the Border wasn’t busy at all, and I’ve missed it a lot since moving to Boulder. So we had a nice time visiting, and good dinner.

We had a voucher for a free ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s in the hotel, so we stopped there when we got back, and Brian and I grabbed a drink from the bar. The kids finished their ice cream about the time we were getting our drinks, so they went ahead into the arcade.

After the obligatory hell of waiting in the “line” (i.e. mob) to exchange their handful of tickets for a couple of pieces of candy, we headed back to the room.

Time for more Dragon Questing! Owen was quite a bit farther along than us, and attempted to battle the dragon, though was very sad to have failed. We would try again tomorrow, though. Lily and I finally made some progress, after getting very stumped on a couple of objects we needed to collect.

Most of the quest happens on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors, with various objects lining the hallways between rooms. So, every night, it’s a bit of a chaotic scene in the halls, with kids and families running around with wands and trying to locate objects. Not your usual hotel environment, lol! But it was fun.

Sunday was check-out day, and my plan had been to get up early, make it to waterpark in time for 9am opening (so we could beat the rush to the slides), and swim until check-out time at 11am. Of course, TODAY everyone decided to sleep in! (And apparently I didn’t take a single picture today, oops!)

We still ended up making it, but I didn’t have time to start any packing before we went down. We were the first in line at the doors, though. Owen wanted to go with me on Alberta Falls, but something went wrong for him on the way down- I think he let go of the handles on the tube and slipped down inside, in an awkward position, and it freaked him out a bit. So he didn’t want to ride any more. I went a few more times on my own – it is a really fun ride!

Then we swam and played water basketball for a bit, before joining Lily in the room (she hadn’t wanted to swim today). While I started packing, the boys went to attempt the Dragon again. After a couple of tries, they were successful! Owen was very proud. Lily decided to not pursue the dragon this time, as she still needed quite a few more objects on our quest before she would be able to attempt it.

After gathering all of our stuff, we headed next door to Summit, where we played a couple rounds of bowling, and did a couple games of laser tag. We like the laser tag here so much better than the one near us, so we were glad to get to come back.

Overall, a really fun, short getaway! We’ll probably be back to GWL at some point, as it’s an easy drive for us, and fun way to get some water-parking in during the winter months. For now, it’s back to the grind for another 8 weeks until summer!

Steamboat Springs – December 2016

We take one big “ski vacation” every winter, in addition to the multiple day trips we make to the slopes. This year, we decided to venture a little farther away and went to Steamboat Springs. We had come up here last year for an overnight yurt adventure, that required some cross-country skiing. But we had never been to the downhill slopes here.

Unfortunately, the trip was right on the heels of our trip to Florida (we had less than a 48-hour turn around time.) Owen got sick literally as soon as we got home, and after assuming it was just a cold… but watching it get worse… I finally took him to the doctor on the morning of the day we were leaving. Turns out the poor kid had Influenza B!

Continue reading

Disney & Florida – Christmas 2016

Chapter 1. Getting to the Airport with our Ridiculous Pile of luggage

So.. yeah. The theme of the day was pretty much…luggage. You may have seen my FB post Friday morning with the massive pile of suitcases in our living room. Here it is again, at the bus stop 🙂

I had been warning Brian for months that it was going to be like this, and I don’t think he believed me until he saw it. The 5 largest suitcases were filled with camping equipment – tents, air mattresses, pillows, bedding, headlamps, etc. Two more were filled with Christmas presents, because we would be going directly to Naples after our Disney vacation to celebrate Christmas with my family. Most of our clothes and miscellaneous items ended up in carry-ons because we maxed out our checked luggage limit of 8. And we each had a backpack, so 16 total pieces of luggage to pack, and keep track of.

Continue reading

Universal Orlando Resort – July 2016

Full Photo Album

Before the Vacation, and Getting There

We actually combined two trips into one. We flew from Denver into Ft. Myers on Sat, July 2 to spend a few days there with my family. We spent a few fun days lounging in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool, playing with the cousins, and Lily and Owen even organized a 4th of July party! But, more details about that trip in another post.

On Tuesday morning, it was time to make the drive to Orlando. We are not very good road-trippers, so I knew the 3 hour estimate on Google maps was highly optimistic. Especially since we would need to make a grocery and lunch stop on the way. We took the back roads instead of the interstate, and got to see the more natural, rural side of Florida along the way.

[​IMG]

Continue reading

Disneyland & Winterfest Water Polo – February 2016

Click here for the Full Photo Album

Day 1 – Thur 2/11

One of the advantages of our move is that we are a lot closer to the Denver airport – only about a 30 minute drive instead of 90. So we only had to get up a little earlier than normal to catch our 8:30am flight. I had originally booked a flight two hours earlier, then quickly thought better of it. Not much good would come of making rope-drop if we did so completely sleep deprived and grumpy.

We always park at an off site lot because it’s usually easier and faster, but we ran into a strange little traffic jam on the road leading up to the lot, and then the shuttle bus was slower than normal getting on its way. So we were cutting it a little closer than I would have liked by the time we got there.

Continue reading

Beaver Creek Ski Trip – January 2016

Full Photo Album

It’s been our habit for many years to take one “real” ski vacation, in addition to the multiple day trips we do throughout the winter and spring. For many years, we always went to Copper, but last year we had done something different and gone to Vail. So it seemed fitting this year to go to the Vail-sibling of Beaver Creek, one of the few nearby ski areas we had never been to.

In looking over some of my recent trip reports, Brian mentioned how stressed out we always seem – the vacation magic seems awfully hard to find these days. I suppose there is some truth to that, so I was hoping we could break the pattern here. While we do love travelling, it can be tough to remain calm when the kids are throwing a fit and being difficult. And I should clarify that in this regard, when I say “kids”, I largely mean “Lily”. Owen is usually pretty easy-going. He does tend to shut-down and zone-out a bit when he’s tired, but is mostly past the temper tantrum age, thank goodness. At a mere 5 years old, something his sister has yet to achieve at 12, lol!

Continue reading

January 2016 – Florida Family Visit

Click here for full Photo Album

We had changed up our usual pattern, and instead of coming to Florida for Thanksgiving, we were spending New Years there instead. Brian had to leave work a little early so we could catch an afternoon flight to Tampa, on Dec. 30. Before we even left, I got notified that our flight was delayed 🙁 And by the time we got to the airport, it was delayed further.

We had dinner at the steakhouse restaurant in Concourse C. We’ve eaten here several times and it’s never very good, I don’t know why we keep coming back. It was the start of what would be a very rough night though, maybe some foreshadowing.

Finally we were on the plane, ended up being about and hour-and-a-half delayed. I was hoping the time change would not make our 1am arrival seem quite as miserable, but we were all feeling sleepy and exhausted when the plane finally landed.   Continue reading

December 2015 – Glenwood Springs

Click here for full Photo Album

For the first time ever, we were spending Christmas as just the 4 of us. So we thought it would be fun to get away on our own little Christmas Vacation! We had originally planned to leave for Universal Studios in Orlando, FL on Christmas Day, but because of our move and Brian’s new job, that trip wasn’t going to work out. I knew the kids were disappointed, so I wanted to at least go somewhere, even if it was closer to home. So Glenwood Springs it was! Since we left on Christmas, I might as well include Christmas morning in the tale.

Continue reading

Grand Junction, Aspen & Lake Isabel – June 2015

Full Photo Album

Lily had a swim meet in Grand Junction, and since it was during the 4th of July week that Brian had off from work, we thought we would make a whole vacation of it!

On the way, we stopped in Breckenridge for lunch, and we ended up at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory! Not the best food, but fun to eat at such an iconic place. And the kids enjoyed that we sat outside on the second-story patio.  

Continue reading

San Francisco – February 2015

Thursday

Brian had been in San Francisco all week, and was going to be there the following one as well. So the kids and I were coming for a long weekend visit! It worked out well as they already had Friday off from school anyway.

Unfortunately, a snow storm was moving in, and I got nervous about our ability to make it to Denver, so I checked the kids out of school a little early on Thursday to give us some extra time for the drive, and hopefully be able to beat the worst of the storm.

Continue reading