Friday, August 4, 2017

PTA IX: Day 11, August 18th, 2017 That is a wrap! Heading home...

Day 11:  Friday, August 18th, 2017  There is no place like home...

PTA IX: Day 10, August 17, 2017 Heading back to Billings, Montana...

Day 10:  Thursday, August 17, 2017   That is a wrap!

This is likely to be a long day of driving, but more importantly it is a clean up day!  I can't help but think of the big purple dinosaur that we got to know so well when the kids were younger, no we didn't see one.  However, I hear him singing in my head-- "Clean up, Clean up, everyone do your share."  We need to return this big rig in the same condition that we received it.  Good news the drop off location is close to the airport!

P.S.  Maybe this is a good night to stay at Walmart?  We would have access to anything we need to get to clean up the rig?  Hmmm, not feeling like the rest of my family is digging this idea.

PTA IX: Day 9, August 16th, 2017 Family Summit...Grand Teton's or ???

Day 9:  Wednesday, August 16th, 2017  What is the plan?  Grand Tetons?

We begin the day in Gardner, Montana, just outside of Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone.  However, this is the part of the trip, that as parents we are EXHAUSTED, we can't make any more decisions, we no longer have tricks up our sleeves, we hope the kids have some brilliant ideas.  While in the back of our minds, we know that we are awful close to the Grand Tetons, so we "should" try and check it out.  However, we are realists and know that we may have tapped all of Dad's energy and resources and may need to find him a nice hotel with high speed wi-fi and a pool of course.

However, the Grand Teton's are worth the effort, after all it is a road trip that is highlighted as wonderful driving tour in the tour/travel books.  Hmmm....I don't really have any lodging lined up, so we can do whatever we want.  This will certainly push us out of our comfort zone, no reservations, no wifi and no phone.  I think we can do it!

PTA IX: Day 8, August 15th, 2017 Heading up to Roosevelt Lodge and out of the Park?

Day 8:  Tuesday, August 15, 2017  Roosevelt Lodge to Gardiner, Montana

We are finally leaving Fishing Bridge RV Park with our nifty motorhome and heading north up to Roosevelt Lodge, to experience the Roosevelt Cookout.

The Roosevelt Old West Cookout, apparently is pretty special.  While we started planning this trip a bit late, I was told we would not be able to get in to this special event.  Imagine my surprise when I called and inquired and there happened to be only "4" spots left!  I felt as though I won the lottery.  However, figured it was my Dad watching out and making sure the kids got to experience it. I suspect it is a little like his favorite Paul Bunyan meal in Wisconsin Dells.

You can't just pull over and sleep in your rig in these parks, so we are off to yet another special evening outing.  The question is, will we or won't we sleep in our Motorhome tonight?  Perhaps an evening under the stars?

PTA IX: Day 7, August 14, 2017 Hiking is certainly a highlight here!

Day 7:  Monday, August 14th, 2017

While we are still connected to Fishing Bridge RV Park, we are still exploring countless sights and lookouts, while trekking all over Yellowstone.

PTA IX: Day 6, August 13, 2017 Hiking and Exploring for Big Game!

Day 6:  Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hiking...Hiking...and more Hiking...

In an effort to rest our weary feet and not to disappoint the kids, we head out to find some Big Animals!  We head out for an evening adventure and participate in the Lamar Valley Wildlife Excursion.  Not to worry, we don't need to dangle the child that is complaining the most to lure the beasts in!  This adventure happens to be the single best place to watch the wild things in Yellowstone.  It is an amazing habitat for bears, wolves, elk, bison, pronghorn, eagles, and bighorn sheep.  Evening is the best time to spot the weary animals.  

PTA IX: Day 5, August 12th, 2017 Exploring on our own in Yellowstone

Day 5:  Saturday, August 12, 2017

This is the first day we will wake up and explore on our own.  Not to worry, we won't attempt the 30 mile hike...just yet!

Since we are staying near Lake Yellowstone, while is is beautiful, it isn't something we would dare set out to explore on our own without a guide.  As some of you know, we don't have great luck with motorized vehicles in water.  Besides, we wouldn't be able to call Willey's Marina "to trouble shoot." So, we have elected to head over to the Marina and take the Scenic Cruise.  It is only an hour, so figured it would be a great way to see Yellowstone from the water.

Kid #1 and #2 have always wanted to try Horseback Riding in the National Parks, Beaches or where ever they have seen it.  Unfortunately for them, it has never been high on our list of priorities.  However, in our ongoing effort to push one another out of our comfort zones and try something different.  (Guy and I did a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and lets just say, he is riding in the Motorhome and I am riding a horse with the kids.)

This ride that starts in Canyon, goes through an open meadow adjacent to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (not visible from the trail). The ride follows Cascade Creek through a wooded area and returns to the corral through a series of meadows and pine forests.  Yikes, I hope I make it!  If I am sending this note out, I likely did...or the kids just wanted to show off a picture of them FINALLY horseback riding in the National Park!

PTA IX: Day 4, August 11, 2017 Yellowstone-Circle of Fire

Day 4:  Friday, August 11th, 2017

This is our first full day in Yellowstone.  We are very fortunate in that we will be participating in the Circle of Fire Tour, this is Yellowstone's signature tour!  It is an all day experience, but at least Guy doesn't have to drive the big rig!  He can sit back and enjoy the sights

We are wrapping up the day, by moving to our final campsite in Yellowstone:  Fishing Bridge RV Park.  This is right near Lake Yellowstone and the only campground with FULL hookups!  So, water and Electricity!  That is very exciting for us, as we aren't really good at roughing it.  The catch is that you MUST have a hard sided camper, as it is full of bears!  Not to worry, we are equipped with Bear Spray!

PTA IX: Day 3, August 10th, 2017 Headed into Yellowstone

Day 3:  Thursday, August 10th, 2017

We made it!  Yellowstone National Park  (East Entrance)

Bay Bridge RV Park (Just one night)

Dinner:  Lake Hotel Dining Room

PTA IX: Day 2, August 9, 2017 Billings, Montana to Cody, Wyoming

Day 2: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cody, Wyoming:  Home of Buffalo Bill and the Cierzan's tonight!

Before heading out of our campsite in Billings, we encountered, our first rookie mistake with the RV.

How many Cierzan's does it take to disconnect a hose from the RV?  
ANSWER:  3 + a trip to office to find a pliers + call to the grounds keeper to come over and finally remove the hose.  Yes, he looked like a superhero, or at least he was to us for that moment.

It is only 2 hours from Billings to Cody, and the drive was fairly uneventful. Since we were driving through Cody to get to our campsite, we figured we should stop, it is the biggest tourist town this side of Yellowstone.  We wanted to rest afterall and take a load off at the Irma Hotel.  Very cool historic hotel.

Cody KOA Campground:  Our home for the 2nd night.  Ok, lets just say after arriving, we decided perhaps the Walmart Parking lot would have been a better bet.

Our initial hook up was not without incident, the water hook up no longer works.  Actually, likely never worked.  However, we thought if you turn the pump on for 10 minutes, the water will work.  Then an experienced RV traveler next to us (you can see his big rig in the photo below), came over to say that he didn't think our water was working right.  We said "we know...".  Kid #1 was in his hammock, Guy on his computer at the picnic table and I was looking over some things, we all nodded and said we know, we are working on it.  Imagine our surprise when we went over 10 minutes later and found water spraying all over and filling the back of our storage in the RV with water.  (Oh, and the water was still hooked up and flowing all over the place),  so, I looked at the writing on the RV and made a call for help.  However, CruiseAmerica was really nice, and said call after 8 am tomorrow  morning, in case it resolves itself, really?!  I have set the alarm for 7:59 am.

As you can see Kid #1 made himself right at home, despite the stress.
Yes, that is our RV in the background.  I told Noah that he needed to light a fire under his butt and start getting ready for our next adventure! (Ironic, eh?!)

We were told that we had to see a "Real" Rodeo while we are on this adventure.  Apparently, Cody is the "Rodeo Capital of the World!"  So, it will have to do in lieu of our annual baseball game this year!

Cody Stampede was top of the list!
Ok, lets just say, this was quite the experience.  To a friend who shall remain nameless, (TOM BRAUN), your remark, "just ignore the fear of animal cruelty," and it will be really fun.  The fun?  I left scared, much like when I leave haunted houses. We were lucky enough to witness a cowboy get thrown off a horse, crushed by the horse and kicked in the head--right in the beginning.  He lay their lifeless for a moment, they asked for prayers, and then AMAZINGLY God spoke to him, he rose up stumbled out and got back on a horse 20 minutes later.  NO JOKE!  Worst part, Kid #2 caught it all on video.  I can't post it...but she will likely share with anyone that asks!  

That wasn't the end of it, then they asked for all kids (12 and under) to come out, they were going to release two calves with scarfs on their tails the kids had to chase them and remove the scarfs.  There were 100+ kids running all over tackling the poor calves.  It looked like a miniature running of the bulls.  (NO, that is not on the list for a PTA adventure).  I also forbade Kid #2 from going down.  

Then to wrap it up, a favorite line of Kid #1 came from one of the announcers.  He was introducing a character in an upcoming event, he said he was the "biggest, and baddest outlaw to visit Cody since Hillary Clinton."  The kids are still laughing, wondering why I thought that this would be a good idea.  I am wondering myself??  However, Kid #1 remarked that maybe this is where he could start his broadcasting career or perhaps it would make a better reality TV series?

Finally, my take away for the day, is that they LOVE guns in Cody! Here is my favorite sign of the day...

PTA IX: Day 1, August 8th, 2017 Heading the the airport!

Day 1:  Tuesday,  Mpls to Billings, Montana

We head out at 8:00 am on our very favorite Delta Airlines.  I say favorite, because that is all we ever seem to be able to take because Guy has so many miles from all of his countless business trips.  He was promoted to the Million Miler Club this year.  "Yippee!" to use my Papa's favorite line.  (It is his birthday today after all.  (Really it is, he would be 93?)  We are fortunate enough to be able to secure 4 free tickets to Billings, Montana in August.  It is kind of like flying to Florida in March.  Right?!

Kid #2 was lucky as usual to have her ticket linked to Dad's they both were upgraded to first class.  While Noah and I were sent back to the 20th row, in the very new plane.  However, we aren't so sure what was so good about the plane.  Check this out...
NO...Kid #1 has not grown to be 7 feet tall and NO he is not sitting in a kid's seat.  These are the new seats on Delta.  He also was lucky enough to experience another traveler sitting in front of him, testing out the reclining ability of the new seats.  Good news, the flight was just under 2 hours!

Upon arriving in billings we were reminded of the one animal that the kids are most concerned about!  They hope not to get a "real"picture like this, but if they did I doubt they would look this excited!

First stop is to catch a lift to the very important:  Cruise America location to pick up our home for the next 10 days!  If you can't wait to see a picture of us in our very fancy, and custom wrapped Ford Motorhome, take a peek.  I think they have the phone number and website all over the vehicle, so that we know who to call if there is a problem--right?

We realized immediately, we would be renting a REALLY stripped down version of an RV!  However, the guy that showed us how things were, told us that they are used a lot and as a result can get worn down, but he takes "GREAT" care of them!  However, he wanted to go through some very important details...

He did remind us however, he has been doing this for 55 years, so knows everything there is to know about RV's  Oh, and he added, I need to show you one more will need to use a bic lighter to light the stove, as the igniter was busted off earlier.  Seriously!  He said that, and we are!

We did head to Walmart (Need to stock up with some supplies, we couldn't load up at home, so Walmart will have to do).  However, we visted a Costco first, to pick up some favorites and extra Bear Spray.

Billings, Montana KOA  Since, it is our first all family camping experience, it seems only appropriate for us to stay at the "Worlds First KOA Campground."  This was a great campground, with all of the stuff we needed and then some!  We would HIGHLY recommend.  We even got to play a little golf, albiet putt, putt golf!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

2017 The Mpls Cierzan's take on Yellowstone, etc... for their annual family Planes, Trains and Automobiles family adventure!

PTA IX:  August 8-18, 2017  Yellowstone

This will be our 9th fun filled summer family adventure.  In our ongoing effort to introduce our kids to as many sights, States, National Parks and experiences, we asked the kids:  "where to this summer?"  They both said, "RV trip to Yellowstone!"  While Robin Williams made the RV trip look far to exciting in the movie: RV .

We can't image being able to live up to the expectations that the kids have set for this years adventure.  (P.S.  If you can, I would highly recommend watching the movie, before taking on an adventure like this.)  Let's just say, we fear Guy will be looking for wi-fi as diligently as Mr. Williams did!

Like most of our adventures in the past, we use multiple modes of transportation and attempt to push everyone to try something new and different!  This trip could take the cake!  (Perhaps, that is why our friends have snickered when we shared what we are doing this summer.  Followed by, please send us the link to your blog again, we want to follow this one!)  We are very aware of the fact that there will likely be numerous analogies and similarities to another famous family adventure, namely:  National Lampoon's Family Vacation!

We certainly will be stepping out of our comfort zone as we "rough it" in our 30ft Motorhome that we will be picking up in Billings, Montana.  (We had to compromise with Guy, as he wasn't excited about driving a giant Motorhome across country.  Then the kids weren't excited about driving our "own" giant truck with a "cool trailer" that we could rent here!  So, in my on going effort to facilitate compromise, we elected to fly to Billings, Montana and rent a Motorhome there.  (Saves us some time, and Guy some more gray hair!)

P.S.  Did you know that you can camp in Walmart parking lots for free?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Northeastern Exploration Day 2: Saturday, August 6th, 2016 (Hyde Park, New York)

This would be our first full day, and we we were in no hurry to get on the roads in New York City.  So after a nice breakfast in the hotel (I know lame, but it was FREE).  We like to take advantage of as many of Guy's travel perks as we can.  Lets just say, travel loyalty programs are essential to our adventures.  Our goal today was to get to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Historic Home.  We made it!  Along the way, we were able to drive through Harlem and the Bronx, the kids thought it was pretty cool.  We didn't stop, as we had a long drive ahead of us, but none the less, they were able to see a lot during the daylight.

Once we arrived at the presidential library, we began to understand why FDR liked the area so much. It was beautiful, tranquil, however, it had plenty of activity around it.  Oh, and a lot of trees!  Did you know he listed his occupation as a "tree farmer?"  Some fun facts--how many terms was he elected to?  4! Did you know that this was the very FIRST presidential library?  We can thank FDR for the idea that subsequent presidents have followed.  I will post a number of pictures once I get the opportunity.  We gave this stop two thumbs up!  Everyone enjoyed it.

After our visit we were famished, so we headed over to the Hyde Park Brewery.  Nothing special, but they had good burgers and beer.  Who could turn that down, after a long day.  Once our bellies were full we headed out to our final stop for the night.  Springfield, Mass.  This would be a long drive, but knowing we wanted to get to Maine the following day, we had some long drives at the beginning.

Springfield, Mass, the only good thing about this town that we found was The Basketball Hall of Fame.  Our hotel was totally a "socks on" establishment, however it was FREE.  I am not sharing the name, but it starts with an M and ends...with a T.  The highlight of this visit, was that the REAL Dr. J-Julius Irving was present for a Q & A at the Hall of Fame.  The irony of this, is that Dr. J is Guy's childhood basketball hero and all time favorite basketball player.  We all had the opportunity to meet him and got his autograph.  After being outraged by the cost of getting into the museum, we felt like we hit the jackpot once we saw Dr. J.

After our visit we headed out to Maine.  Again, it would be a long driving day, but the roads were really nice and the scenery was beautiful.  We were able to see some very unique campaign signs as well.  To those of you that didn't realize that we will be electing a new President this year.

Our culinary highlights for the day, was a stop at Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine. We had our first official Lobster Roll in Maine.  It was FANTASTIC!  Then finally, we were able to grab dessert as the sun set in Wells, Maine at Big Daddy's Ice Cream.  Lets just say--Wow!  Four thumbs up!

We finally rolled into a lovely and brand new Residence Inn in Bath, Maine.  tuckered out!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Northeastern Exploration Day 1: Friday, August 5th, 2016 (Brooklyn, New York)

Since we do a lot of driving on this trip, we made every effort to streamline our packing...well, lets just say, 6 bags was the best we could do.  However, we did bring along an Aero Bed, snacks, travel books and 12 personal electronic devices and all of the relevant charging tools.  Cierzan's do NOT travel light.

The first leg of this adventure included a flight from Minneapolis to New York.  It was a rather uneventful flight.  While Guy, Leah and I snuggled in Coach and enjoyed our airline snack, Noah enjoyed a little more room, breakfast and a feature film in first class.  (Special thanks to Dad for sharing his upgrades, one of the few perks of a lot of travel).

Once we landed in New York, Guy decided we should experience the nice airline lounge for American Express customers, while it was nice (with some delicious amenities, we quickly discovered Guy had some last minute business to attend too).  Once we had lunch and countless chocolate brownies and a cocktail or two, we headed out to find the car for our adventure.  First, we learned that the East coast personalities are nothing like the "Minnesota Nice" personalities that the kids have become accustomed to.  However, Guy gave them a run for their money.  Those that know Guy, can only imagine some of the sarcastic exchanges that we witnessed.

We finally secured our auto for the next leg of our vacation, however, driving in New York City is quite the adventure.  We were headed for Brooklyn, which was our first stop and wow was that ride.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any dramamine so it felt like we were on a roller coaster ride into the city.    We finally landed at our hotel, Marriott Brooklyn Bridge.  We gave the hotel a thumbs up!

After a little rest, we ventured out for dinner, Hill Country BBQ-right near our hotel.  We were NOT taking the car out.  The kids gave it three stars, the brisket was delicious, but the sausage was spicy.  We ventured out for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge following dinner, as it was right near our hotel.  Wow!  Something everyone should do at least once.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles VIII, August 5-15, 2016: Cierzan's Northeastern Exploration

We are headed off for our 8th trip across country to explore, experience and taste some of the northeastern highlights.  Special Note:  what we may find to be a highlight may not be a highlight for the ordinary person.  We are always seeking that gem that no one has ever heard of or experienced.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day #2: Saturday, March 19th, 2016 (Kauai)

It is a special day for us today--Dad's Birthday!  Happy 8th Anniversary of your Birthday, Guy!  Guy and Kid #2 are so lucky to have been fortunate enough to celebrate their birthdays in warm climates.  We tried to make the day extra special for Guy.  We hung out in the hotel pool, Guy and Noah played a little catch (Noah has High School Baseball Tryouts the day we return to Minnesota).  So, they are trying to take advantage of the opportunity to throw when they can.

In the afternoon, we headed over to Puka Dog.  This hotdog stand, may seem insignificant, but it is a real gem and a favorite for us.  Mango Relish on a Polish Sausage, who could go wrong?  The lemonade is pretty special too!  

We ended the day with ride to the North Shore, our favorite!  While there is only one two lane road that goes from one side of the island to the other, everyone is on hawaiian time, so it takes about 45 minutes.  We had dinner reservations at Makana Terrace, overlooking Hanalei Bay.  A special place, if you experience it, you will totally understand.  The sunset is stunning, and the food is delicious.  

Hawaiian Adventure Day #1: Friday, March 18th, 2016 (Arrive in Kauai)

It was a long day, but totally worth the wait!  We left Minnesota and had a brief stop in LA before landing in Lihue, Kauai.  We are staying on the south side of the island (despite the fact that our favorite is the North Side).  We are staying on the island for 4 days and 3 nights, so we were able to grab a condo with a spectacular view of the ocean at Poipu Shores.  (Specifically Unit 303A).

Since we were arriving late at night, we decided to stay at a hotel with Dad's points.  We were able to grab a LOVELY room (despite the construction surrounding our room=no real view) at Koola Landing!  It was very nice and spacious, but the ground had an amazing amount of construction.  We are certain, this property will be lovely once the construction is complete.

However, we are seriously heading to bed.  Long trip here...

Cierzan's Hawaiian Adventure...Spring Break 2016!

We were lucky enough to experience two of the Hawaiian Islands, with Kid #1 and #2--Kauai and Maui!  While their spring breaks do not sink up any more, we decided to defer to Kid #1's schedule.  High School matters more now.  Kauai is by far our favorite island, but Maui holds a special place in our hearts, Kid #1 didn't remember it and Kid #2 had never experienced it.

While we like to blog our experiences, so our family can revisit some of our favorite places over time.  We hope that others may find our experiences helpful in creating their own own family adventures.

...from our Ohana to yours....

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PTA VII: Day #11, Sunday, August 2nd..There's no place like home!

Day #11...That is all folks!  We are on the way home.

PTA VII: Day #10, Saturday, August 1st...South Dakota one more time...

Day #10...

PTA VII: Day #9, Friday, July 31st...South Dakota and all of the Motorcycles...

Day #9...We have finally made it to South Dakota.  Guy once again, found us a place to stay that was perfect.  L Lodge

PTA VII: Day #8, Thursday, July 30th...the final leg, leaving Colorado and heading to South Dakota!

Day #8...The final leg!  Yes it is true, despite our love for the Rockies, we had to stick with our plan and head out and move on to South Dakota.  However, we decided we needed to take one final visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park.  (We did buy and annual park pass, so it wouldn't cost anything).  We had not yet explored Bear Lake, as we were told it would be the most busy, but beautiful.  It WAS the disneyland of national park venues, packed with visitors, shuttles pulling in and out and clean as a whistle.
Here are a sampling of the stunning views from Bear Lake.  The kids really enjoyed this short hike around the lake as well.  

This guy was clearly hiking farther than we were.  However, Noah really wanted to check out the Glacier-next time!
We headed out of town, after a quick stop for taffy in Estes Park at The Taffy Shop, and a visit to the "Famous" buckle shop, per the River's Family Recommendation.  Again, both of their recommendations were awesome.  No, we didn't buy any belt buckles, but we know where to go, when we do want some.

The drive to South Dakota, while long, it went fast!  Did you know that the speed limit in Wyoming is 80 mph?  Once we passed the Colorado state line, not only did the landscape change, but so did the speed limit.  However, we did get a glimpse of the beautiful landscape in Wyoming, before it became too dark.
Perhaps the biggest highlight on our drive for Guy and I was that we BOTH were able to see an amazing shooting star, fly across the sky as we drove in the darkness.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

PTA VII: Day #7, Wednesday, July 29th...Rocky Mountain National Park

Day #7..."This place is ridiculously beautiful!"  This was Leah's comment nearly one mile into the park.  This is after she was grimacing at the prospect of hiking in the mountains all day.
It was stunning, we knew we had a lot to cover in little time.  Keep in mind the Rocky Mountain National Park is ginormous!  However, we wanted to make sure we hit the big landmarks and sites.  Ironically, we drove right up to the "Old Fall River Road."  It was a road that was 11 miles long, with countless switchbacks and steep grades AND it only goes one way!  It was terrifying to drive, but the majestic beauty that we got to experience was stunning.
This is just a sampling of the very narrow dirt roads that we had to drive up to the top of the mountain.

The road did have a number of pull outs near the switchbacks, where we could stop enjoy the view and take a break.  The kids especially enjoyed the breaks and the short hikes, it was a kids climbing paradise.  

We all really enjoyed the Rockies!  The climbing could go on forever, but there was so much to see!

The water was sparkling, the weather was perfect and we really enjoyed the landscape variations.  
At the top, the kids continued look out to the mountains, to see what else may be hiding out there.  According to Leah's handy journal entries, she noted 30+ animals, including, Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, Squirrels, Marmot, Ground Hogs, Beavers, etc...  

It really was an amazing day, full of stunning sights, which we finished off with a visit to Grand Lake.  Since it was dinner time, but we were not ready to finish our sightseeing, we found a highly recommended sandwich shop:  Cy's Deli.  Ordered some of their specialties and headed back out exploring.  

While the views and the lake were stunning, we decided to start our journey back to Estes Park.  

Here are some additional highlights from our drive back home.  We did make one stop to hike back to the beginning of the Colorado River.  Since we went rafting in it, we figured we should see where it started.  

We also saw a couple of additional animals in the park, on our way out...

Finally, the road didn't become any less forgiving on the way out of the park.  Here is a picture of one of the passes at the top, that we had to drive through.  

PTA VII: Day #6, Tuesday, July 28, 2015 ...Last Day in Vail and Heading to Estes Park, Colorado

Day #6...We couldn't leave Vail, without taking the kids up the Gondola and checking out the top of Vail Mountain.  (This is one of our favorite memories, when we went skiing in Vail).  So we headed out in the morning to "Gondola One." The kids loved this experience, Leah wasn't even scared.  Now the thought of riding up one of the open chair lifts, was terrifying for her.
(This will have to represent the air travel portion of our summer adventure).
When you get to the top, all you see are countless mountain biking trails, hiking trails and lots of ski signs.  (We are warming Leah up to coming out in the winter sometime).  We decided to take things easy and take one of the less strenuous hiking trails:  Upper Fireweed.  Well, lets just say, less strenuous doesn't mean the same thing to all people.  Leah was wiped, and "hangry."  (Our new word we started using to describe someone that is hungry and angry.  However, Guy did great considering he was on a conference call while on the hiking trail.
This is the trail we headed out on...
Noah and Leah head off...

Leah and Noah at the top of Vail Mountain
We did get to snap a couple extra shots before heading back to the hotel, wish we could have spent more time at the top of the mountain.  We had no idea, there was so much going on up top!

As you can see, Noah didn't want Abby River's to pass him.  The thought of Nate's younger sister lapping him was unthinkable.  (Kidding-Abby!)
After checking out of our hotel, we headed on to the next leg of our adventure:  Estes Park, in the Rocky Mountain National Forest.  Ironically, we learned that some good friends-the Rivers Family were also visiting Estes Park.  We were able to rendezvous with their family for Dinner.  We met up in Lyons, Colorado at a very cool and hip joint for dinner:  Oskar Blues.  (The chicken lettuce wraps and Pinner Beer were FANTASTIC!)  It was so great to visit and catch up with them, somewhere OUTSIDE of the baseball fields.  
Steve, Sam, Nate, Abby and Jen Rivers with Guy, Leah, Penny and Noah.  (Yes, I must be shrinking, not sure why all of the boys are taller than me now?)

We then headed out to check into our cabin (for the next two days).  Guy found a great spot at River Stone Resorts in Estes Park for us.  However, the kids were quickly reconnected with the Rivers family.  We met up at "Fun City".  A place where the kids could hang out a bit more, and Guy and I could get some touring advice from Steve and Jen (who were clearly experts in our minds).  They have done this hiking stuff before and could give us some tips and tricks.