Monday, July 31, 2017

Family Road Trip - Amarillo, Durango, & Telluride

Hello there!  Remember me?!  I'm the girl who used to blog semi-regularly.  Now we're lucky if I even remember my password to get on this thing! Ha!  All that to be said, I've taken a break from both of my blogs to truly enjoy the summer with my family.  I wanted this summer to be all about family and that it has.  #noragrets

We just got home from a two week vacation in Colorado.  I received several messages regarding our trip....where did we stay?  what did we do?  where did we eat?  SO...I thought it would be easiest just to update our travels here and dust the old cobwebs off this site.  Today's post will highlight some of our favorites in Amarillo, TX, and Durango & Telluride, CO.  Tomorrow will be all about my most favorite place in the world...Breckenridge!!!


We started out early on a Sunday morning and headed west for the first leg of our trip.  We originally planned on spending two weeks in Breckenridge, but at the last minute we changed up our plans and decided we wanted to see a few things we've never seen before.  We drove a total of 14 hours the first day and ended up in a little hotel right outside of Albequerque, New Mexico.  We received lots of dinner recommendations for our short stay, but because we arrived so late, we grabbed some Subway and called it a night.


I love road trips, so the 14 hours we spent driving seemed to fly by.  Truly.   Between pit stops and random pullovers to check out sights we'd never seen before...plus an EXCELLENT playlist (if I do say so myself ;)...14 hours flew by in a flash.  And even though I'm sure I'll receive some sort of "you don't deserve to raise your children" type messages for this, our McDonald's stop was pretty on point.  We only get it a couple of times a year and you better believe I went all out.  All the large fries, pink slime (aka: nuggets...amazing)...and Coke I could handle.  #feelfreetojudge 


Before getting to Albequerque, we stopped off the highway in Amarillo to check out Cadillac Ranch.  We really didn't know much about what to expect other than what we heard from friends so we didn't come prepared.  I should've read up on it, but I didn't.  Just seemed like a cool thing we'd see and then leave.  Anyway, Cadillac Ranch is a large piece of land with about 10 Cadillacs buried in the ground nose down.  One of those crazy Texas landmarks, lol.  It's definitely a cool sight to see & part of the allure is getting to spray paint the cars.  The kids were in awe.  We should've come prepared with spray paint bottles...which we didn't...but there was a family there with extras who saw us aimlessly wandering about and gifted the boys their half-used cans.  Super nice.  And just enough to give the boys a taste for tagging :)


This was the perfect pit stop to get out, stretch our legs, and see something we've never seen before.  The boys REALLY enjoyed this stop so we didn't rush through it.  We stayed for about 30-45 minutes, but probably could've stayed a lot less.  I think we were all a little happy to be out of the car. 


  If you've never seen it before and it's a stop along your way, you definitely want to pull over and check it out for yourself.  It's right off of HWY 40 so you don't have to travel far off of your route to get there.  We'll probably stop again next summer when we head that way again. Just make sure to bring your own cans of spray paint before you go!


Day 2 found us on our last leg of our first destination.  It was about a 5.5 hour drive from Albequerque to Durango, CO and we arrived just in time for lunch.  Before getting to Durango, we had to pull over for a photo op.  The boys wanted to say they walked to Colorado, LOL!!!


Luckily another family pulled in right behind us and we were able to get a family pic together.  Cheesy, but had to be done.  Onward and upward to Durango we went.



A friend of mine who is from that area suggested we eat at Steamworks Brewery for lunch.  GREAT recommendation!  We sat on the patio, enjoyed the cool breeze, and the food was 12 kinds of delicious.  We both enjoyed the special...beef brisket tacos...and they were amazing.  I also had a side of chicken tortilla soup and it was sensational.  Let me just warn you right here that much of this vacation consisted of me stuffing my face full of #allthefood. Not sad about it at all.



After lunch, we walked around the historic downtown area and took in the sights.  We walked into a few little shops, grabbed some cinnamon rolls for the boys, and then headed to Telluride.  We had a ton of people telling us to make sure we rode the train from Durango to Silverton, check out the cave dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, and go rafting.  We would've done ALL of those things, but we didn't plan for it so we were strapped for time.  We wanted to get to Telluride before dark.  No part of driving through the mountains in the dark is fun for either of us and with Telluride being our ultimate destination, we decided to cut our time in Durango really short to give us plenty of time to make it to Telluride before sunset.  Next year Durango will be a one or two night pit stop, God willing!  We'd LOVE to check out some of those recommendations. The downtown area was so charming!



Telluride was only a couple of hours drive from Durango and we couldn't wait to arrive.  The drive was gorgeous...and really scary.  We're not used to ascending into the highest heights of the mountains on a regular basis.  Couple that with insane rain, hail, and a 40 degree drop in temperatures through some of the highest points and you can bet that we were white knuckle driving and on edge for the last hour or so of our drive.  YIKES.  I envy the locals who can drive through the mountains in those conditions without so much as blinking an eye.

Once we made it through the scary parts of our journey, we found ourselves in Telluride and y'all...I was taken aback.  I mean, completely speechless.  The views in Telluride are truly BREATHTAKING.  Everywhere we turned we were surrounded by mountains & peaks.  In every single direction.  And not in the distance.  I felt like the mountains were hugging the town.  Heaven on Earth.


Since we added this stop to our trip at the last minute our choices of places to stay were a little limited.  Or so we thought.  Neither of us knew a thing about the town, so knowing where to stay (Mountain Village?? or in town???) threw us for a loop.  We read and read and read about it, but still came out unsure of what to do.  We eventually decided it would be best to stay in town because from what we read we thought Mountain Village would be dead in the summer.  We ended up finding a pretty inexpensive lodge to call home for a couple of nights that was in walking distance of Colorado Ave. & close to the trailhead of the hike up Bear Creek Falls Trail we planned on taking.


We stayed at Manitou Lodge in a loft style room.  Y'all...it was the cutest thing.  The entire unit was made up of 11 different rooms.  Our loft-style room upstairs included both lower and upper balconies. This was truly the perfect accommodation for our little family of four.  Adam and I slept upstairs and the boys slept downstairs on the couch.  We couldn't get over how perfect it was!  Comfy and quaint...our kind of place.



This was the view outside our balcony doors...


The San Miguel river ran right alongside our lodge. We kept our windows and balcony doors open at night so that we could listen to the rushing water as we trailed off to sleep.  Pure heaven.


This is where the boys liked to play every time we walked outside...


It felt like we were semi-nestled in the woods and that was the most amazing feeling.  The only downside...if I had to pick one...was that the bathroom was really, really tiny.  NOT a big deal at all.  We dont' need a lot of space.  But if you're someone who likes a bigger bathroom, this wouldn't be your jam.  However, for us, it was the perfect spot.  This will be our go-to lodging when we visit Telluride again, for sure!!!

We settled into our lodge, changed into warmer clothes, and walked to Colorado Ave. (which is the main drag) for dinner.  I felt like our lodge was centrally located to everything we wanted to do and once we parked the car we didn't drive it again until leaving town.
  Everyone we met and several people on IG recommended we eat at Brown Dog Pizza.  We're never one to turn down pizza, so that's where we headed for our first meal in town.  Everyone clearly knew what they were talking about because that was one of the best meals we've had in a long time!!!


It's a cozy place with lots of TVs for the sports fanatics, and the kids had the option of making their own pizzas at the table and sending them back to bake.  I thought that was such a cool touch!  Of course, they both opted to create their own and here they are making their meals...


The end product....


They ate every last bite!  As did we (we opted for the supreme pizza...highly recommed!).  Ha!  Great first meal!  I would HIGHLY recommend stopping here if you find yourself in Telluride.

We headed to bed a little early so we could wake up and hit the trails for some hiking the next morning.  We are a family who loves to hike, so I researched some of our options before getting into town.  I wanted an easy to moderate trail because we aren't experts & I figured we'd still be acclimating to the altitude. Plus, hiking with kids for this semi-overprotective mom sometimes has me on edge.  Both boys are great hikers.  They LOVE it.  But they're also a little over-confident so I didn't want anything extraordinarily difficult or treacherous.  After lots of research, we decided on the Bear Creek Falls Trail and it was a bonus that the trailhead was about a 5 minute walk from our lodge.




We read that the bugs can be pretty annoying through certain parts of the hike, so we came prepared with bug spray....and LOTS of trail mix, granola bars, and water.  It's a 4.5 mile round trip hike so all of those extras came in handy.  The hike was AMAZING.  Wide open trails to walk up until hitting the top before the waterfall.  Some parts of the trail were a little more challenging to hike than others (steep, rocky, etc.), but it wasn't "hard" by any means.  This little area was a great resting point going up and coming back down...



I guess hikers stop here and stack rocks one on top of the other and leave them for the next group of hikers to ogle.  My youngest absolutely LOVED this area.  He quickly went to work making his own little stacks and he was so very proud of his handiwork.  See?! LOL.



We stopped and snacked.  Drank some water.  Stacked some rocks.  And then headed to the top.
It was sweet heaven when we finally made it.  I mean, just LOOK AT THIS VIEW!!!!!!




We sat down our gear and the boys headed into the water to jump across the rocks and explore.  I watched our things and sat down to catch my breath while taking in the beauty of God's creation. 


The sheer magnitude of those views is so hard to articulate.

We realized we hadn't exactly made it to the top when the boys finally came back from exploring.  We came to see the waterfall so we needed to climb a little bit more to get to our final destination.  The path going up was a bit trickier.  Definitely narrow and steep-ish in parts...wet and rocky...a little slippery...but the boys powered through and the climb to the top was worth every breath lost.
It was BEAUTIFUL.


We stayed at the falls long enough to snap a few pics and marvel at the view.  My oldest was ready to get down.  He's not a fan of heights...just like his momma....and this part of the hike had him feeling a little nervous.  And if I'm being honest, it had me a little nervous, too.

If you're in Telluride with kids, I definitely recommend this hike.  Yes...it's long.  4.5 miles round trip isn't exactly a short walk in the park.  But it's definitely worth it.  My boys did so much better than I expected.  They were great!  My youngest lives life at a much slower pace than my oldest.  He takes his sweet time doing everything (hello 45 minutes to eat a hot dog!!!!).  So he definitely took his time on this trail.  Dad walked with our oldest and I walked with our youngest.  We lagged behind the other two the majority of the hike, but the conversations we had were worth the distance between us.  The only time the boys complained was on our way down when we had about a mile left to walk.  My youngest said, "are we close yet?  My legs are getting tired."  And that was it.  Not too bad!

Walking back to our lodge after the hike....just right down the street.


We headed back to the lodge, changed clothes, and walked back to Colorado Ave. for lunch.  We were STARVING!!!  We went up and down the street trying to figure out what to eat.  Everyone wanted something different.  We were all a little irritable and HANGRY.  My oldest could live on grilled cheese and when we found this cart we knew he found his lunch...


We grabbed him a sandwich that he could eat on the go while the rest of us tried to agree on something.  IMPOSSIBLE.  Like I said, irritable and hangry.  After walking in and out of several different places, we finally settled on Smuggler's Brew Pub which was right around the corner from our lodge.  We sat on the patio, ordered our food, and after what seemed like forever, we finally chowed down.  And then came the rain.  OF COURSE!!!  Irritable moods were made even worse.  Lord help us.  Let me say this though...the food was EXCELLENT.  Great menu and the atmosphere was one of my favorites.  The only thing that dampened our experience was the rain ( no pun intended).  I would definitely recommend stopping in for a meal here.  I ordered the meatball slider sandwhich (amazing!) and my youngest ordered the nutella on toast (which he took two bites of and then abandoned.  not cool).  No idea what the spouse was eating because I was hyperfocused on my own meal and all the food my son wasn't eating.  Definitely would go back again!

We headed back to the lodge for a nap because we ALL needed one.  And it was the best nap ever.  We slept with the windows and doors open as the rain came down.  Perfection.  When we woke up a few hours later, we got dressed and headed to the gondola to ride up to Mountain Village and see what it was all about.



Like I said earlier, I have a fear of heights, so I was NOT looking forward to the ride up.  It's a pretty steep climb, but everyone was telling us it was a MUST DO and I certainly didn't want the kids to see my fears get the best of me.  So up we went and I'm SO glad we did!  Yes, I had butterflies in my stomach almost the whole way up, but WOW.  The views were unparalleled.  Just stunning!!!!


Mountain Village was DARLING and I could absolutley see how it would be even more amazing during ski season.  By the time we got there, all the little shops were starting to shut down and it was pretty quiet.  However, I think we would've loved staying here this time of year.  There were a ton of things for the kids to do...panning for gold, trampoline bungee, obstacle course, park, etc....but they were all closed for the night. .  However, we were able to find a little park with a rock climbing wall and the boys enjoying *trying* to scale it until they gave up.  Ha.


  The restaurants were all still open as was an open area with yard checkers and other little games for the kids to play.  We just got up there at the wrong time.  Going during the day would've been our best bet.  I would probably suggest staying in Mountain Village during the summer if you have kids.  You could always take the gondola down into Telluride if you plan on hiking or just walking around town.  The vibe in Mountain Village just seemed a bit more family friendly.  But dang...that Manitou Lodge in town was the best!!!!


After the boys finished playing, we headed to a little pub to grab a local beer and then gondola back down to town.  We walked to The Floradora Saloon for a late dinner.  I was OBSESSED with this place!!!!  I'm all about the cozy little places with lots of history and The Floradora Saloon has been around Telluride since the early 70's.  Much of the decor from those days is still intact which adds to the charm of the atmosphere.  The food was WONDERFUL, too. So flavorful and completely unexpected. I had the baked mac & cheese and ohmiword....to-die-for.  Adam got the Pork Green Chili and said it was the best chili he's ever had.  Great dining experience!!  HIGHLY recommend.

The next morning we were up bright and early to clean-up, pack up, and hit the road to our ultimate destination...Breckenridge!  We loaded up the car and walked to Baked in Telluride for breakfast.  It was just one block up from our lodge and we were dying to check it out after walking past it several different times.  Just look at all these baked goods!!!!  Of course, the boys opted for donuts as big as their heads...


Dad had a croissant and I had an apple turnover.  Both excellent selections, but I'm thinking anything from this place would've been amazing.

After breakfast,we took the gondola back up to Mountain Village to grab a souvenir Tervis we saw window shopping the night before, and then back down to head out.  I LOVE Breckenridge and couldn't wait to get there, but I did NOT want to leave Telluride at all.  Two nights wasn't enough.  We decided we need more time to explore next time we're out that way.  We'll tack this on to our trip and make our stay last a few extra nights.  There are a couple of other hiking trails we'd love to try and sights we'd love to see like Bridal Veil Falls.


If you're thinking about a trip to Telluride, GO!  NOW.  Hahah.  But seriously.  You definitely want to see it for yourself. It's impossible to describe until you experience it in person.  We will definitely be back and we'd even love to ski here one ski season if possible!  I say "if possible" because the tiny airport isn't anything I'm brave enough to conquer.  Big planes, big airports...I can barely even do those.  Driving in the summer is way easier for my chicken self to conquer.

Many people asked why we didn't fly and this is exactly why.  There's SO much to see and we wanted to see it all.  Driving is the best way to do it!  And since we both have time during the summer to road trip, we figured we'd make the most of it and drive.  I personally LOVE road trips.  Not just because I don't like flying, but road trips afford you the opportunity to see things you wouldn't otherwise.  It helps that our kids are a little older (8 & 10), are easily entertained, and don't need diaper changes or bottles.  We've been on 18 hour road trips to Indiana when they were babies and I know that's hard!  But even so, road trips, in my opinion, are always the best way to travel!!!

Let's talk Breck tomorrow!


Monday, May 8, 2017

Breakfast Fit For A "STAAR"

Happy Monday!

If you're a mom like me, you might find yourself counting down the remainder of Mondays left in the school year.  You're probably doing the exact same thing if you're a teacher, too :)  Counting down the lunches you have to make.  The alarm clocks you snooze through.  The outfits that need to be clean and semi-wrinkle free.  It's not that we don't love school, it's just that, well, we're ready for a little unstructured and routine-free time.  I can promise you I'll be saying something TOTALLY different come August, but for now, I'm finding with each day inching closer to June, I'm more and more ready to have my boys at home, to sleep in, and to just enjoy this crazy Texas heat with no plans in sight :)  

However, before we celebrate the start of summer, 3rd & 4th graders all across Texas have to take the state mandated STAAR test.  Talk about ending the year with a bang, LOL!!!  It's the first year for my 3rd grader to take this test.  He's 100% ready, but I'd be lying to you if I said he wasn't 100% anxious.  Bless his heart.  It's definitely a mental thing.  Knowing all that, I thought it would be fun to send him off to school on a celebratory note instead of a scary one.  So I figured it was a great morning to get up before them and prep a little breakfast fit for a "STAAR" ;)  


First up, the menu.  Praise the Lord for easy recipes.  He requested these cinnamon rolls and since I prepped them last night, all I had to do was pop them in the oven this morning.  Easy peasy, thank you Jesus.  I know bacon and eggs or something healthier would've been the smarter choice, but I prefer the path of least resistance & my boys don't necessarily dig savory breakfast choices :)  Whatever works.






I decorated the breakfast table with things I already had on hand.  I use all of these manipulatives at workshops & conferences, so all I had to do was pull it out of the closet and put it on the table.  Really, really simple!  


It probably took me a total of 5 minutes, so trust me when I tell you I didn't work to hard to make things "special".  I just wanted to get him excited and help to calm his nerves.  Bless his heart, he was so nervous!  He puts WAY to much pressure on himself.  He says his goal is to make a 100.  Way to set the bar high!  Lord!  I mean, I love that he goes big when he sets his goals, but I hate that he's so hard on himself when he doesn't meet his expectations.  I miss the days when his biggest concerns were getting his diaper changed and enjoying his next bottle. 



Star stickers for the STAAR test (you can find them in the craft section at Wal Mart for $1.96 a bag), and lots of dice & timers (Dollar Tree), & pom pom garland (Dollar Spot at Target).  Today's test is all about Math, so these just kind of fit the bill.  Tomorrow he'll be taking the reading portion of the STAAR, so I'll switch out the dice for books & letter tiles and call it a day :)  The only thing I actually went out and bought for this was the package of Starburst.  




He's already requested a special breakfast for tomorrow, too.  "Pam"cake Cake it is!  He loves this stuff and I don't make it nearly as often as I probably should.  I guess that'll make it that much more special!  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  



Praying for all of our sweet babies taking the STAAR here in Texas this week!  


Monday, April 3, 2017

Well, Well, Well...

Long time, no type!  2017 has been quite the year so far.  Here's what we've been up to since I last posted in December (whoops!)...

In January I made a quick road trip to Dallas to attend a surprise party for one of my favorite people...


I rang in February "Gal"entine brunching with these cuties.  February.  Short sleeves.  80 degrees.  No winter in sight.  #winning


Followed by a trip out to Pasadena, CA to present at a conference.  This was my first time in California and it did NOT disappoint!  I flew into Bob Hope...the most darling little airport!...and stayed right down the street from Old Town Pasadena.  Absolutely loved my time there and can't wait to go back!

February also brought about some big changes for the boys. They finally got their own rooms!  They share a Jack & Jill bathroom so they're not too far away from each other.  They got to pick out their own bedding and a lot of the decor.  I'm done doing it my way.  The bonus is that they LOVE being in their rooms now!!!  Let's take a tour of these space tomorrow, mmmkay?!

March came in like a lion!  We celebrated like it was 1937 for the birthday of this handsome man...my grandpa.  

And then headed off to Breckenridge with some of our best friends for lots of skiing and, of course, Apres ski, too ;)  Recap on Wednesday, shall we?!  Breckenridge is my family's most favorite place in the world!!  


So that's been my year so far...in a nutshell.

I also started this bible study back in January with the ladies at church....


Let me just tell y'all.  If you're looking for a transformative bible study, this one is it!  And be sure to watch the videos that go with it!  Priscilla Shirer is such an amazing teacher!!!  Our study ended at the beginning of March and now I'm starting this one with a few friends based on some suggestions from the ladies in my bible study...


I wish I could tell you that I've been trying a ton of new recipes and can't wait to share, but that just isn't the case.  Lots of things on repeat.  Salmon and veggies.  Tacos & taco salads.  And all the chicken.  Did I mention that pizza has taken up permanent residence on our weekly menu as well?! 
#lazycooking

So that's about it in my little world.  Not much to share, but just wanted to pop-in and say "HEY!"  

Happy April!!!!