::rocky mountain national park::
we planned it so we would only have a super short drive into the park that third day.
felt kind of funny sleeping in a hotel only an hour or so from our final destination, but we didnt' want to pull in and have to set up a tent and make dinner at 7 o clock at night either. this made our final morning in the hotel a little lazy and less rushed. we even squeezed in a trip to a delightful little colorado panera. little did we know it would be our last one for a looooong time!:)
the drive in was beautiful...john denver was playing...
but we were waiting to see those snow capped rockies.
my parents made all the camping reservations which was so awesome.
we decided to stay outside of the national park so we would have showers available.
this campground was just the sweetest.
wish we had gotten more pictures of it...but we did scope out the site we want to reserve next time!
we were the first of our family to arrive in the park, so after setting up our new home away from home...
...we headed into the park to find a picnic spot.
hopefully creek included.
there's those snow caped peaks!
brrr, that water was make your feet hurt cold!!
on the way back to meet up with everyone we spotted our very first elk.
the elk population is a bit out of control in the park so we pretty much saw tons of them after that!
but nothing quit like that first one to really get you in the camping mood.:)
our family is here!!!!!
let the vacation begin.
this was the view up the hill from our site.
the kids spent so much time up there exploring, making clubhouses and playing hide n seek.
it was almost as much fun as the planned hikes!
a bit challenging for aubrey which meant one of us grown ups usually had to tag along and spoil their cousin fun.:)
that first night we went to the campfire program back in the park at the aspen glen campground.
it was such a beautiful night and so cool.
quite the departure from the temps we were used to during the day.
i loved these programs when i was young too.
such a great way to end the day and perfect for making you sleepy and ready for the tent.
happy to report that everyone slept like babies our fist night in the tent.
i know it was the mountain air, and that big day of fun.
i think of all the days we spent in the mountains, this one was my favorite.
we headed back into the park to take a drive up trail ridge road for a little hike on the tundra (the land above the trees).
the weather was absolutely picture perfect.
this was always one of my favorite spots and all of us together made it even better.
even some 4w ones that always seem scarier.
i was a little nervous this time too...guess it was the mom in me!
no way on earth i would have wanted to be the one driving.
so thanks babe!
sorry for all the shots of the back of my brothers rental car!
and talk about crazy...look at those cyclists!!!
the mountain was full of them.
pause for an overlook and picture...but not to the top yet.
we met with the ranger for our guided tundra walk.
he clocked the wind at about 25 mph but at times it reaches over 100mph.
he encouraged us to get down low to feel the difference in the temps and to point out why everything on the tundra is teeny tiny. i love rangers! and in college i really wanted to be one! maybe someday!!:)
look at the beautiful flowers that somehow still manage to grow here.
it was a little cold and windy for aubrey so they headed back to the car.
a bag of sun chips kept them smiling and a skier put on a show for them.:)
we did a little shopping here and enjoyed a bubbly drink.
then walked up to the tippy top.
wow...what an amazing view!
this little peanut made it the whole way without stopping!
aubrey was already on here way down by now.;)
i just love this place.
a herd of grazing elk.
we headed down to a warmer and less windy spot for a picnic.
someone slept for the whole ride and didn't even wake up for the photo op.
it's that mountain air i tell ya!
food always tastes better when you're camping am i right?
card games, conversation, and many, many rounds of heads-up (amazingly fun!!) finished off our evening.
and the smores got us all ready for bed.
i loved this day!!
today we decided to go on a hike around bear lake.
they had some construction in some areas of the park so it required us to park and ride a bus to the trail head.
this was a very easy hike around the lake with some beautiful views.
we stopped a lot for pictures can you tell?:)
after looping back around the lake we had lunch in the parking lot,
then headed back out again for a slightly tougher hike to alberta falls.
some of us needed a little extra encouragement so mimi left little surprises on the rocks to keep em goin. kind of like breadcrumbs only better!:) it was kind of funny to hear passers by wonder about who was leaving all the skittles on the rocks.:)
these two hiking buddies stopped a little bit before the rocky tippy top.
you wouldn't be a hiker without at least one fall.
first ones to the bottom!
short walk back to catch our ride.
aubrey fell asleep again as soon as she hit that seat.
dave and i drove around with her for awhile so she could nap while everyone else went for ice cream.
that's ok though, i ran into a starbucks for a little refreshment of my own.
(and just for the record...panera sooooo wins!:))
look at the view from out back!
couldn't you just chill here every day??:)
dave picked up some for later.
quick showers woke everyone up and got us ready for our last night.
second favorite day for sure!
today we had to make our way to denver for dave's meeting while the rest of the crew headed to buena vista. after packing up we went back to get some pictures we missed, and to shop a little in the charming town of estes park.
bye-bye guys...see you in three days!
fishin store fun
i'm hungry lets eat!:)
michael taught the girls all about dr. pepper:)
i just love this picture riley took of herself!!
after a yummy lunch on the water we packed up and jumped in the car again.
denver here we come!