the wild wild west

I am laughing at myself this morning.  The whole reason I wanted to start this blog was to document our travels and I still haven’t taken the time to recount our RV adventure and we depart tomorrow morning for a month in Costa Rica.  So as I run around today getting all of our last minute things in order, I am taking 45 minutes to get a pedicure and share some out west adventures.  Multitasking at it’s finest…

Dewey and I both share a love for the mountains, outdoor snow sports and of course travel.  We have independently skied a number of mountains and of course a few of them together as well.  As the kids get older we would really like to find a family mountain that can be our go to for skiing.  We love the idea of seeing different mountains but while the kids are young it seems to make sense to stick to something we know and love and to keep the variables to a minimum.  This was one of the motivators for our RV adventure in May.. that and my husbands love of Recreational Vehicles.

Dewey started researching this trip as soon as I agreed to 10 days in an RV with our family (provided that it had a real shower and toilet unlike the one he promised me in New Zealand).  He found a company just outside of Denver with exactly what we were looking for and as soon as he had booked it the reference books started showing up in the mail.    I gave him a hard time about his love of the real thing but they actually came in incredibly handy with the lack of cell service or wifi.  We planned a loop through the southwest of Colorado and with no real plans other than some places we knew we wanted to see we were starting our adventure.

The travel to get out there was manageable but once we took a cab to the RV rental and waited while we got very mediocre but time consuming instructions on how to use the beast the kids were starting to lose it.  They were incredibly excited and equally ready to get this show on the road.  Fortunately for us we didn’t have far to go once we got on the road.  A dear friend of mine from high school who has shared his time between Colorado and Hawaii was now in Summit County and opened up his driveway for our first night of   “camping.”  We had the opportunity to get unpacked, meet his beautiful wife and almost 3 year old son and spend some time in their gorgeous new home.  We showed up to an amazing dinner, tons of toys, their sweet son (who shares amazingly well) and the kids had an absolute blast.  The next morning we hit up a target to get provisioned for the days ahead and then the Babels followed us up to the hot springs so we could all spend some more time together before our first night in the wilderness.

Post hot springs we headed toward Monarch Ski area and found the most magical camp site thanks to one of Deweys books.  It was opening night (Memorial Day weekend) and I think we were one of two people there using a campsite on a stream.  We set up and it was exactly the way I had envisioned the trip.  Hammock, a cold beer, the kids playing outside, Dewey making a fire and of course smores after dinner.  I try really hard not to set any expectations as I know that can often lead to disappointment but since I had never been on a trip like this I spent a lot of time mapping it out in my head.  This was everything I had hoped for.  By night two Maris let us know that she much preferred the RV to our house.

We got into a pretty good routine right from the start.  We would show up to a campsite early afternoon, get all set up, do some exploring, early dinner and early to bed.  We would wake up, eat some breakfast, do a little exploring and hit the road for the next spot around nap time. This seemed to work really well for keeping the kiddos happy and we were never in a hurry which happens to be my favorite part of vacation.  I feel like so often in our daily life we are hurrying for whatever reason from one thing to the next and I love not having an agenda on vacay.  From there we went on to Crested Butte and had the most incredible day together.  We parked in town and walked around, grabbed coffee and cookies then rented some bikes for a big old family bike ride.  I biked with a pull behind and Dewey had some sort of kids seat with pedals that attached to the back of his.  Both kids gave each one a try and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Fields couldn’t reach the pedals so he decided to take a nap instead.  We had a late lunch that day before hitting the road to find a place to sleep.  We ended up in Gunnison at one of the most magical places I’ve ever seen on the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  This is where it all kind of sunk in for me.

Dewey and I cooked dinner while the kids played and when we sat down to eat at the picnic table I had this aha moment.  In our house we tend to eat at the kitchen island all facing the stove and when we were sitting at this picnic table looking at each other I realized that we never do this.  It changes the conversation and the intimacy of course and right there by day 3 I felt totally comfortable in an environment that I was so unsure of going into the trip.  I was sure that someone would be trying to crawl out of the RV window to get some personal space by the end of the week and instead I ended up totally embracing the tight space and what it was creating for us as a family.

We continued on through Ridgway and Ouray taking that afternoon to explore town and hike Box Canyon Falls.  It was the first time we put both kids in a pack and thank goodness the hike was short because I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to toting a child and I’m pretty sure Maris lost her cool over which color pack she got to ride in.  Regardless, the waterfall was beautiful and like every else mother nature shares with us, humbling.  We had another killer camp site that night up a little higher on the mountain with an incredible view of town below.  We had a couple of deer visit our campsite while roasting marshmallows which was our second close encounter with wildlife.  It was a really neat experience for all of us but especially the kiddos.  The deer weren’t even scared away by little man screaming “horse”.

From Ouray we made the haul to Telluride which while I hate to choose favorites deserves a post of it’s own.  We fell in love.  Hard.  We ended up staying in Telluride for the next 3 nights because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  We even missed seeing a good friend of Deweys in Durango who coincidentally grew up in Telluride and totally understood why we just couldn’t manage to get out of town.  When we finally wrapped up in Telluride we decided to head back to Denver, turn in the RV and check into a hotel for the last 2 nights to get clean and repack.  We also knew that nothing was going to top the place we just left so we threw in the towel so to speak.  The kids had an absolute blast in Denver and I was super impressed by the city.  We did the aquarium, the children’s museum, Elitch Gardens and Dewey even squeezed in a trip to REI.  Maris was sad to see the RV go but she was quickly distracted by her new love of rides and roller coasters.  We crammed it all in, reorganized our very dirty clothes and got uber clean before heading back to the East Coast.  It was certainly one of the best experiences we have ever had as a family and I will cherish these memories forever.  It’s a trip I hope to repeat and most importantly a type of travel that I hope our children grow to love.  After all that’s the reason we do it.  “We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.”







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