Friday, June 21, 2013

Home again

We're back from our vacation. This was our most ambitious vacation yet with our children and we had a really nice time. I've got most of the laundry done and suitcases and bags and other things put away, and we're settling back in at home. I'm tired, but satisfied and happy.

We started our trip by driving northward on Interstate 25 through New Mexico and into Colorado. The small Bears had their appliqued activity totes in the backseat with them. The bags worked out so well. I am really glad I did this. They metered out their snacks all by themselves and kept themselves busy with the items in the bags (I added books and other things before we left).

We stopped a few times before arriving in Colorado Springs, where we spent two nights in a hotel (two-room suite) while traveling nearby to see a few sites, including the Pike Forest and Pike's Peak Highway, which we drove to reach the summit (at 14,000 feet). There was good climbing for small Bears on large granite boulders at the summit and the views were breathtaking. This was my second time at Pike's Peak, the first being ten years ago this summer when the Bear and I took a vacation in Colorado. We lived at sea level at the time and I was so nauseated at the summit. This time around, after nearly seven years of life at high altitude, it was no big deal. I'm a mountain girl now.

While in CO Springs, we also visited Garden of the Gods, a site where you can explore rock formations, hiking on paved paths and observing wildlife. We saw rabbits, deer and prairie dogs. The small Bears enjoyed climbing on the fences to get a better view. There were a lot of people there when we visited and it was crowded and noisy but it was an interesting place to visit.

On the third day, we drove about an hour north to Denver, where we checked into our accommodations for the rest of the week, a two-bedroom apartment on the upper floor of a two-story house built in 1902, in a trendy, historical neighborhood. It was beautiful and spacious but much cheaper than a hotel. What a great place. I found the apartment on Airbnb back in April. The owners have a chiropractic office in the bottom story, where they work all day. They don't live in the building themselves, but they have made such a wonderful apartment to rent out. The flooring and woodwork are original but refinished, the kitchen is renovated and very modern and the bathroom has period replica fixtures.

We were very comfortable there. The Bear and I had one bedroom and the kids had the other one (we brought a camp cot for the LB to sleep on; we don't think they would have done very well in the same bed together). We prepared most of our own meals, since we had a kitchen. This was a bit of work for me, as the main meal-preparer, but it saved us a lot of money and we were able to make healthier choices too. In the evenings, after the children went to bed, the Bear and I sat outside on our very own roof deck (built on top of the house's detached garage), talking, drinking and, in my case, crocheting; I started a stash-buster project while we were there.

In Denver and its environs, we visited several interesting places. We spent a morning at the Museum of Science and Nature, looking at many exhibits. My favorite was the Wildlife Halls, which are comprised of many meticulously detailed dioramas. These displays have been a passion for me since I was a child. I am enthralled by wildlife dioramas. I can look at them for hours. Actually, I did. When I was able to tear myself away, we also looked at the Mineral and Gem exhibit, which was terrific, one of the best of its kind I have ever seen, and the paleontology/dinosaur exhibits, which were also excellent. The small Bears, along with the large one, reveled in their time with the dinosaurs.

Another place I loved visiting was Vines Vintage Market in Fort Collins, north of Denver. I picked up a couple of things for myself, which I'll share soon. We also visited the Celestial Seasonings tea factory and took their tour and drank lots of free tea samples. And we spent an afternoon with old friends who relocated to the area a few years ago; we each have kids the same ages and the older two first met as newborn babies when we all lived in the same town in New York. Over the years, both families have moved around the US, but we've tried to meet up when possible. It was our turn to pay a visit to them. It was fun to see the bigger kids together, now nearly eight years old, and we took a new set of pictures. Our earliest set was taken when they were around two months old.

The best thing about staying in the apartment was having the chance to live in the city for a few days. We live in an urban area ourselves, but it's a different type of neighborhood - larger lots, less traffic, fewer things within walking distance. In Denver, we walked to a lot of places, including a coffee shop on several mornings, where I had really good lattes. I used a nearby laundromat one afternoon to wash our clothes and talked with other customers for awhile. I carried the clothes back to the apartment in a trash bag but if I lived there, I would buy myself a little cart. It was just a short walk up the alley behind the house to reach the laundromat. Did laundromats get cooler since I bought my own washing machine? This one had movie posters from foreign countries and there was techno music playing. When I wasn't schmoozing with the locals, I read a back issue of Vanity Fair. The laundromats of my youth did not offer such delights.

We had a wonderful time. It's good to be home, though. Our plants survived, even though it was very hot and dry while we were gone. The Bear, mastermind that he is, rigged up a watering system attached to a computer; the plants were watered as necessary and seem to be doing fine. Tomorrow, we will retrieve the week's mail from the neighbor who collected it for us. I have to buy some groceries, we cleaned ourselves out before we left. On Sunday, we have a pool party to attend with friends from the LB's school.

Vacation was a lot of fun but so is getting back to normal. And now that I'm done with all the vacation prep, I can focus on what's really important: the Royal Baby Watch. I'm on the edge of my seat, let me tell you.


  1. I'm so glad you had a good time on your vacation! No matter how much fun it is to be away, there is always something so nice about getting home and sleeping in your own bed again.

    Royal Baby Watch had a double meaning for me. My oldest son and his wife are expecting their first child - my first grandchild - at the same time the royal baby is due. :-)

  2. What a great vacation you had! I think it's good for us to go somewhere else and do different things.. makes us appreciate what we have, too. I'm excited about Will and Kate's baby, too! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  3. It's so lovely to have you back, I missed your posts. You sound as so you had a fantastic time and I'm glad. Can't wait to see your vacation treasures. You made city living sound so cool. I haven't set foot in a launderette since I was a student! X

  4. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. The launderette sounds fun- so much better than I remember too! Your photos are great- love the dinosaur :)

  5. What a wonderful holiday! Thank you for sharing with us and your photos are really lovely.
    M x

  6. This sounds like our type of holiday - I know my children would love the climbing (and I would love the tea tasting!) We always do the same on holidays, when the kids are sleeping we'll chat away on the balcony / terrace about any old thing, it such a nice thing to do in a new place and really makes a holiday! It sounds like you had a really nice time. I do know what you mean though, it's always nice to be home. :) Welcome back!

  7. This sounds like a nice-paced family vacation. The photos are fabulous, and I love that view from the mountain top! I sort of hate returning home, especially after a REALLY good vacation. Wendy

  8. Beautiful pics of your lovely holiday Jennifer, thank you for sharing. I'm happy that things worked out so well for you and loved ones, and isn't it a true saying " Nice to go away, but soooo nice to be back home again"!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
    Joy x

  9. Jennifer,

    It sounds as if you had a lovely holiday. I love all the photographs. We re going away to France in Betty in about two weeks. I am sooo excited. It took me a while to work out royal baby watch. Then it clicked - Kate! Welcome home. I have missed you here.

    Leanne x

  10. Sounds like an amazing holiday. Lovely photos. x

  11. Hi Jennifer,Welcome back,I have missed your posts!!!Glad you had a wonderful holiday!!!Glad your lovely garden survived!!!Love that oversized beautiful tea cup!!!It's gorgeous!!!Also can't wait for the new Royal Baby!!!Hope you have a fantastic week back home!!!

  12. Welcome back! Looks like you had a great time & sounds like an awesome holiday. The photos are so beautiful!

  13. Sounds like a great trip. Welcome home!


  14. I'm happy you're back, safe and sound, from what sounds like an amazing vacation. I still can't get over those cool travel bags you made for the kids! I bet you have a lot to catch up with now that you're home. Welcome back!!
    Handmade Cuties

  15. Glad you had a wonderful vacation with your family! The photos are all so lovely. Great photo of yourself and the little bears! I dream about living in a city someday! To be within walking distance to so many wonderful things sounds just perfect! Glad you are back! And yes, I am so excited about the upcoming arrival of the Royal Baby... any day now!!

  16. Glad to hear you had a great holiday. The photos look great!

  17. Sounds like a wonderful vacation. Your bear's computer rigged sprinkler system seems interesting. Great photos! I hope to see the mountains someday.

  18. What a wonderful trip you've had!!

  19. Wow what a fun excursion, the countryside is beautiful, I loved seeing that amazing glass sculpture piece!
    Come and join my new Monday photo carnival on my travel site!

  20. That is an ambitious trip! But it does look quite successful.

    Great to have you be a part of "Oh the PLACES I've been!". Hope to see you next week!

    - The Tablescaper

  21. looks like fun being outdoors, nature is beautiful In your area

    I'm inviting you to come join us also For Travel Photo MOndays, it runs all week starting Mondays, come link up with us :)

  22. I tried to take photos of the dinosaur bones at the museum at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah but they just didn't turn out. What is your secret? Colorado is a great place to visit.


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