Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Getting Caught Up Part II

That first post seemed pretty crappy, but the crap had just started.
July 4th-  We left the Estes Park hotel and we were making our way to Vedauwoo.  We were driving along and I looked at Brad and said something along the lines of "You know, yesterday sucked but at least we are healthy, happy and continuing on our journey!  Karma will come around for those people that stole our site."  I shouldn't have said anything.  We pulled into a gas station right outside Loveland, CO to fill up.  We filled up and then the van would start.  The fuel pump had bit the dust.  We were about 6 miles away from anything, so Brad called O'Rielly's and found a fuel pump and called AAA for a tow.  It would not be a trip without a tow.  Luckily, the tow truck came quick and we headed to O'Rielly's.  We were at the parts store for about 2 hours and Brad had fixed the van!  My hero!  We left the store, got some lunch and then finally made it to Vedauwoo.  We snagged a great spot and spent a little bit of time just unwinding after the past few days.

The next morning, we went on a nice 1/2 mile hike around Vedauwoo.  It was a really cool place.  Upon finishing the trail, we spotted a mama moose with her two babies.   This was so cool!  I had never seen a moose before.  We watched them for quite awhile and snapped a lot of photos.   What a great start to the day!

After leaving Vedauwoo, we stopped by Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff and Agate Fossil Beds.  Neat, quick stops.  One of the rangers suggested we stop by Fort Robinson on our way out to Wind Cave.  This was a great suggestion that saved us some time.  We ended up getting a great campsite at the Fort all by ourselves.  Well, kind of all by ourselves.  It was right next to the cemetery of the fort :)
It rained all night, but we had a nice spot in a cool place.
No ghosts found  


Getting Caught Up Part I

Wow!  We have had a crazy week!  I will try and sum it up as quickly as I can.

We had a few days in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The first day we hiked like Brad had mentioned in the previous post and I somehow pulled my groin muscle.  Super painful and I have no clue how I did it.  We were hiking at a pretty steep incline, but nothing too crazy.  Anyways, we hiked back down and returned to our campsite for the night inside the park.  The next morning, we drove to the Long's Peak campground and found an amazing spot!  We were very surprised by this because we were convinced we would not find a spot there.  The campsite was also free, so that was cool!  We claimed our spot and then headed back to the park.  Brad went and did the Bear Lake hike and I sat in the van trying not to move my leg too much.  This sucked!  Brad enjoyed his hike though, so that was great.  When leaving the park, we saw the Stanley Hotel and drove up there to take our chances on getting a tour.  We lucked out and got the last two spots on one of the last tours for the day.  Awesome tour!  We enjoyed hearing about the history, the Steven King of it and the ghost stories.  The beautiful stairs in the place were a little difficult, but well worth it.  After that we headed back to our Long's Peak site and hung out for the night.

The next morning we woke up, had some breakfast and then headed out for a hike down in the Wild Basin Area.  We left a sign on our site post and both of our chairs out in the parking spot to make sure everyone knew that our spot was taken.  REMEMBER THIS!  We headed back into the park and I was anxious to see how the 1/2 mile hike was going to feel on my healing muscle.  I was hoping that it was better and I could get back to it.  We made our way to Wild Basin and the parking lots were full!  Every single spot was taken except for the spots that were 2.5 miles away from the trail head.  For my first day out hiking again, Brad did not want to push it, so we headed out of the park.  We decided to hit up a couple of breweries.  We first went to Left Hand Brewery which we were both very excited about.  We enjoyed a few beers and the awesome atmosphere and then headed to Oskar Blues.  We were not too impressed with this place or the beer.  Meh. Last stop was Boulder Brewing Company.  On the way to Boulder, I was not feeling too great, but we headed in and got some beers and lunch.  About 15 mins into our lovely lunch, I had such a bad head ache that I could not keep my eyes open.  I had to leave and lay down in the van.  Brad was very sweet and got the tab and drove me back to the campsite while I tried not to puke in the van.  I awoke to Brad slamming on the breaks and jumping out of the van.  We had made it back to our campsite to find a large family camping there.  Brad lost it.  They had ripped down our sign and threw our chairs into the trees.   I was so dazed that it took me a min to figure out what was going on.  Brad got back in the van and we went around the loop again.  No sites in sight.  We pulled back up and my anger then took over and I had to give them a piece of my mind.  Let's just say that the lady I was "talking"to was very lucky that she had small children present...
Brad was fuming, I was ready to hurl.  Brad admitted defeat and took me to a hotel.  It was Fourth of July weekend and he knew better than to think that we would ever find a campsite.  Thank goodness he made this choice.  Arriving at the hotel in Estes Park, I got extremely sick and was grateful for a bathroom of my own.  The rest of the night was terrible with a pounding headache, chills and bad cable shows.

The next morning, Brad had calmed down, I was holding down food and we were ready to hit the road.  Our next stop was Vedauwoo on the Fourth of July.
Dream lake
found a friend 
Stanley Hotel
Had to get a drink at the hotel.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park

We had a reservation in the park at the moraine campground for two days. With it being the week of the Fourth of July camping was hard to find. So we were happy to have half of our stay here be reserved and in a great spot. 
The first day we went on a really nice hike. Followed a river up a canyon to a wroaring waterfall.  It was a really nice hike. But unfortunately chelsea pulled her groin muscle somehow, so she had to walk the whole way back in pain.
The next day I went up to the bear lake area. I had to take the shuttle from a huge parking lot. I personally love when parks do this. Zion has it so you have to use the shuttle, after seeing how many people were in Rocky Mountain I think they should do the same. 
The shuttle took only 15 minutes to get to the trailhead. I walked up to bear lake and took some photos of the huge mountain lake. I then headed up on another trail. I decided to go up to dream lake. This is a really accurate name. It was a bit of a hike to get there but it was one of the most beautiful lakes I've been to. 

I will upload some photos when I get a chance.
The last 3 days we had some issues and we will cover them soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


We continued to be spoiled for two more days after leaving Colorado Springs. We headed to Denver to stay with our Uncle Tim and Aunt Marylee.  It was a decent two hour drive. When we arrived in mid morning Tim and Marylee decided to take us on a little brewery tour!  We stopped by 38 State Brewing, Grist Brewing, and Lacavore BeerWorks. We enjoyed several great beers with our great hosts. We concluded the evening at the new Farm House Brekenridge.  There we had a few more beers and a delicious dinner.  After our long tour, we all went home and crashed. 
The next morning, we woke up and went to Toast for breakfast. What a yummy place!  Tim and Marylee had to do some work so Brad and I watched car shows on the couch. This was actually quite enjoyable. Nice and relaxing. 
Later that night, we enjoyed steaks and some great laughs while playing cards against humanity.
What a nice visit we had. Brad and I are very lucky to have such great families in one of our favorite states. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wonderful Colorado Springs

What a great time we have had in Colorado Springs with our Aunt Melissa and Uncle Stu.
On Friday, Brad and I decided to do our own little brewery tour.  We had a list of 14 breweries within 15 miles of where we were staying!  We narrowed it down to 5 of them.  Our first stop was Bristol Brewing Company.  We were both super excited to visit this brewery because we do enjoy their brews.  We enjoyed a couple beers and then spent a little cash on some cool merch :)  I had to have their beehive honey wheat and their mass transit ale.  Brad had their red rocket ale and their compass ipa.  All good stuff.  This brewery was an old elementary school that they made half of it into the brewery and tap room.  The rest of the building was taken by a bike shop and some other little shops.  Really cool place.  The bathrooms were still decorated with paintings and drawings including the solar system and a multiplication table.

We then stopped by Trinity Brewing Company.  We really liked this place.  Very low key and had great brews.  Brad did a flight and I enjoyed their Awaken Coffee Stout.  Cool place and cool people. here!

After Trinity, we needed food!!!  We drove through chic-fil-a and got some grub and headed to manitou brewing company.  This was a very small place with a very small beer selection.  We each had one beer and we hit the road.  I had an Agave Ginger Saison that was actually pretty great.  Brad had a EXP ipa that was good.

It was getting pretty late and we had Stu and Melissa waiting for us to go to dinner, so we stopped at one more brewery.  We went to Smiling Toad Brewery.  This place was really awesome and low key.  The bartender was a big older dude with an awesome mustache and suspenders! This place was not flashy but had a great atmosphere.  I had their vanilla porter that was delicious and Brad had their amberdextrous.   Great brews 
We hurried up and got back home so we could go have dinner.  We went to the Airplane restaurant which is a staple when staying with Stu and Melissa.  We were excited to go back to this place.  It was a lovely dinner with great company.

Saturday, we ended up going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  We had a blast!  We walked through the whole zoo and got to ride the skyride.  We also got to pet and feed giraffes!!!!  This was a huge deal!  What a nice treat.  We then headed up the mountain to the beautiful Will Roger's Shrine.  It was very cool.  Headed back down the mountain, we made our way to Colorado Mountain Brewery for a late lunch.  Yummy!  Last stop of the day was the liquor store.  Brad and I were in heaven!  So many amazing beers that we do not get in Omaha.

What a great visit here in Colorado Springs.  Thank you Stu and Melissa for showing us such a great time and for your hospitality.  It is always wonderful seeing you two!
Lots of love,

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bishop's Castle

On our way to my aunts house we had two stops. The first stop was the amazing Bishop's Castle. This "castle" was and is still being built by one person. Jim Bishop has been working on this 10 story castle for over 40 years.  It is incredible. With 3 spires, two rooms big enough to hold receptions, a moat(with working draw bridge) and crazy catwalks to nowhere, this place was insane. The pictures do not do it any justice.

We then made our way down the mountain on a great national forest dirt road. As soon as we got into Pueblo we hit a brewery for some lunch and a few Irish beers. Shamrock Brewing was great. We made our way up to my aunt's and uncle's house and had a nice dinner.

Tomorrow we are doing our own Colorado Springs brewery tour.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

We woke up early and hit the dunes as early as we could because the surface can reach up to 150 degrees. To get to the dunes you have to cross the small stream. It is very shallow but wide, and cold. We hiked up the dunes a bit, and hung out for a while and watched the children sled and snowboard down the hills of sand. It got hot on the sand by 10:30 so we hit the road. We ran into another couple that have been on the road in their vanagon for 7 months.
We headed out to our next stop; lake Isabel in the San Isabel National Forest. We found a nice Spot that was wonderful, surrounded by tall trees, tall cliffs, and the sound of a small creek.

Tomorrow we are going to bishop's castle and to my aunt's house for a few days in Colorado Springs.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Getting to the Great Sand Dunes

Today was mixed. I'll explain. 

We started the morning with a great two  hour horseback ride from elk point lodge. The staffs was so nice, which matters on this type of activity. We had a great guide take us up into the mountains a little bit  then back along the lake. 
We then headed out for The Great Sand Dunes National Park. We ended up using the wolf creek pass on highway 160. The van did not care for this pass at all. This was definitely the hardest pass we have ever tried.  It started at around 7,800 hit the top at 10,856 the Continental divide. The van over heated twice on us. But I stopped 5 times to try and keep us from causing any issues. We crused up the mountain at 10-15mph And stopped every half mile for 10-15 minutes just to be sure it was cool. To make us feel better there were a lot of cars that had to do the same. After the top we then coasted down the mountain, rarely having to use the gas at all, and that really cooled the vans heart down. 
We then made it the rest of the way to Great Sand Dunes. Hit up the visitors center and talked to a ranger about the next day's activities. 
We then went to the campsite only to find they were full, I guess this place is more popular than I thought. I found a BLM campsite only a half hour away. We hit the road, and what a rough road it was. Once we got off the highway it was only 4 miles north, but Google maps said that it would take 25 minutes to get there. About 5 minutes in, I realized that was probably correct; the road was switchbacks and washed out with decent  sized rocks. But we made it up and found a great site with a spectacular view of the valley. 
We set up camp and made some delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Chelsea's special birthday beer from ska brewing. 
 Today had it's stressful points but was still a great day. Tomorrow we hit the slopes(of sand).


Vallecito lake.

After the fun of city life in Durango it was time to get back out in the Forest. We found a Great Lake only about a hour(for the van) from Durango. We drove around the whole thing and found an amazing campsite right on the lake. 
We set up camp and set up a time for horseback riding the for next day.  We then enjoyed the absolutely amazing weather. Sat by the lake, read, made dinner and had a beer. It was a great day.



Brad and I had a great time in Durango over my birthday weekend. We arrived on Saturday and found a hotel to stay in that wasn't going to break the bank.  The hotel room was not ready for us yet, so we did a little searching and found a diner that everyone seemed to love in this town. It was called CJ's diner and that little place was packed.  We waited about ten minutes and then sat down for a delicious breakfast.  By the time we were done, the hotel room was ready and Brad and I took some long showers. We were both feeling grimy after being in the desert.  We hung out in the air conditioned hotel room for a little while and then headed out for my birthday excursion. SKA brewing company!!!  I was so excited to visit this brewery and so was Brad.  We ended up having all of their beers except for one between the two of us.  This place was so awesome!  Excellent beer, great atmosphere AND they were playing amazing punk/ska music all night. I was in heaven. Ska usually does not do tours on the weekend, but they offered a surprise your that we jumped on right away.  It was a great tour. After finishing the tour, we hung out for a little bit longer and then decided we should probably get some food. We went up to the bar to pay out tab and for our merch we picked out.  Up at the bar was one of the Brewers that struck up a conversation with us.  We ended up talking to him for about 45 mins and we had mentioned that between us we had almost had all of the beers.  He later bought us a bottle of the one beer we didn't have so we could drink it on the road.  Super nice guy-Joe 
Someone had mentioned that it was my birthday and this was the perfect way to spend it. Just then, the bartender brings me a sample of a mix of two of their
 ipas. She asked if I liked it and of course I did. She then grabbed what is called a crowler which is a can-growler and filled it and capped it in front of us.  She stuck a label on it that said happy birthday and what beer was mixed inside.  So cool!!!
We then headed out to a place called El Moro.  This was a resturant/ bar that the lady who did the tour suggested.  What an awesome place!  It was very unique and trying to old salon/speakeasy style but not cheesey.  We ordered a couple beers and some great food. We talked and laughed and really had a great time there.  What an awesome way to spend my 25th bday ! 

Day 2 in Durango was a little more low key.  Needless to say, we drank a little too much the night before :) 
We slept in and then walked down to a place called Doughworks for breakfast.  Yummy!  We then walked back to the hotel and watched tv for a while and hydrated. We later walked over to Durango Brewing company.  This was the complete opposite of ska.  We walked in and it looked like everyone there hated the world.  It was a sad, dark place that we had one beer and headed out.  Atmosphere was not that great, but they did have decent beer. We grabbed a six pack for the road too.  We picked up pizza and headed back to the room for some more laziness. 
All in all, it was a great couple days in Durango.  
Next stop Juan Forest and then Sand Dunes! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mesa Verde

We left our campsite in Hovenweep and headed to Mesa Verde.  This was one of the many stops on the trip that I was extremely excited for.  It was also our first National Park stop on the trip.  Upon arriving, we first set out to find a nice place to camp.  We did not know how busy it was going to be and it was a first come first serve site.  We pulled through the loops and found an awesome stop surrounded by trees.  We claimed our spot and headed to the visitors center to plan our days.  There were several hikes that required tickets to go into the site.  These were also ranger lead to help preserve the sites.  We decided to get tickets to the balcony house and cliff palace for the first day and then long house on our last day.  2 days booked!  My ankle had not healed all the way, but there was no way I was going to sit out another day.

Day 1-
After leaving the visitor's center, we headed up and up the mountain.  Every attraction was about 7 miles plus up the mountain.  The van went slow but was a champ making it's way up the mountains.    We had the balcony house tour first. But we were a bit early so we set up in the parking lot. We popped the top and laid down for a hour.   We hiked down the side of the cliffs and made our way into amazing site.  There were two or three long ladders into the site.  We got to walk all the way through the different rooms and look into the kivas.  We had to squeeze through tiny door ways and make our way through the living areas.  The tour guide was great and so full of information.  To end the tour, we had to crawl through a tunnel that was extremely tight.  I had to twist my body sideways just to get my hips through!  It was pretty fun!
 We then had to bust our butts to get to the next tour for cliff palace.  We got there right as it was starting.  Our tour guide took us down and down towards the site.  It was the heat of the day, but this was the site to see.  We came around the cliff and there it was, it was huge!  So many rooms and 21 kivas all in this alcove.  We had several more ladders to climb and we learned more about the site.  This was the site that is used to advertise Mesa Verde and it made a lot of sense after seeing it for real.
After the tour, we stop at a little cafe area and had some cold beers and a flat bread taco.
We headed back to our campsite and took a little snooze and then made some quick hotdogs.

Day 2-
We woke up we were able to take our time.  Our long house tour was not until 2:00.  I made some french toast for breakfast and we enjoyed the cool morning breeze.  We had a long drive up to the tour meeting spot so we hit the road at about 11:00ish.  It took us a little more than an hour to get up the mountain to the long house spot.  We did have to stop for a little, clumsy, black cub to cross the road.  He crossed and then started the climb up the ledge by the road.  We watched him climb and then took a turn off to see if we could continue to watch him and maybe see mama.  There was not site of the mama bear, but the baby bear was running around for a little while before entering the wooded area.  He was quite adorable and super clumsy.  We continued up the mountain.   Right around the area of long house, was a cliff dwelling called step house.  This was a self guided tour so we made our way down there because we had time to kill.  We hiked all the way down and came across the site.  It was a neat area because there was still pithouses in the site that the Ancestral Puebloans did not build on top of.  So this site has evidence of two separate occupations of the site.  Really cool!
After hiking all the way back up, we still had about an hour before our long house tour so we once again popped the top and relaxed for a bit and hydrated.
2:00 rolled around and we met up with our ranger guide and headed down to the site.  This was a 2 mile hike down and then 2 miles back the same way up.  We came around a corner and saw the amazing long house.  It was HUGE.  We got to walk through the site and see al the evidence of how these people lived and survived for so many years.  It had a really strong water supply coming in the back of the alcove.
Hiking back up was hard in the heat of the day.  We made our way back to the car and back to camp.  We enjoyed some pasta this night and met some very nice neighbors that we chatted with for a while.  We had some beer and hit the hay.
Durango, CO is the next stop for a couple days!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Canyons of the Ancient

Today was a good day.
We woke up and it was hot right away, But Chelsea made a great breakfast. Breakfast burritos with eggs, turkey, bacon, cheese and green chilis(from Santa Fe). Made much easier with the new camp stove and griddle.
We then headed out for a day of exploring in "Canyons of the Ancient". First stop was "Painted hand Pueblo". Unfortunately upon arriving we realized that when Chelsea rolled her ankle yesterday it was worse then she had thought, so the hikes were to be mine alone. I did not like that she had to stay back, but, we agreed that I need to see the sights and let her ankle heal because we have Mesa Verde to do tomorrow.  So I left her with a book in the shade of the van and a very tall sage bush. The trail to the ruins on this one was very short, I would say less then a half mile. But a great hike, sometimes they don't need to be long to have an impac on you. It was full of great Pueblo structures, I really enjoyed the tall kiva with a sub structure. And the amazing view that I'm sure was part of the reason they built there Almost 1000 years ago.
Next up was a bit of drive to Lowry Pueblo. This was an interesting Pueblo structure because they had built a metal roof to cover the main section. Which I had never seen them do this before. It was a short trail from the parking lot, so Chelsea went with me on this one. It did have one of the biggest kivas I had seen yet.
The last stop for the day was Sand Canyon Pueblo. This was only a 110 yard hike to the start of this massive Ruin. I really enjoyed this one because it was not excavated or restored in any way. This site is twice as large as the largest dwelling in Masa Verde, but when you get to it, there is nothing that stands out. It is just a beautiful end of a canyon, but as you start to look you see that the piles of stone and dirt are what is left of what was one of the biggest ruins in the country. It was awe inspiring.To stand an imagine the over 450 rooms and 11 kivas was a great experience. Looking across the valley you could see that it took the whole valley to house this structure.  I could have walked from cliff to cliff for the rest of the day.
We then headed back to our campsite, in Hovenweep, a bit of a drive considering we are going the opposite way tomorrow for Mesa Verde but we really do love this site. It is quiet and secluded with a great view, much like our first site last year the Horsethief in Canyonlands.
Today was a great day. We really enjoyed driving around this beautiful land, beating the heat. The van may not have A.C. but you don't need it at 50mph with the windows down.


More photos to come when we have wifi!