Colorado 2013

Summer sure has changed for our family this year.  In summers past, we spent our weekends in our camper.  Everywhere.  Together.  Never home.

This summer, we are “stuck” home because of our kids’ schedules, and that has taken some getting used to.  Our boat and camper have not even left their garage parking spots, which is very sad, but is our new reality.  I am still hoping for a day or two at the lake, but not holding my breath, as I watch summer flying by.

This past week, we snuck a quick trip to Colorado between Princess’s performance school schedule and Bill’s work trip.  We left at 5:00 AM on the 3rd and drove 14 hours (which is nowhere near a record for us road warriors) to Colorado Springs.  Our kids were awesome – we only stopped twice to get gas and use rest rooms.  Traveling with avid readers is pretty easy – the female half of our family read 14 books on this trip.  Traveling with antsy pants Crazy Man is another story…but he was silent on this trip because he brought all kinds of rope and string to braid and twist into all sorts of things.  Once, we had to stop along side the road and let him burn the ends.

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We just told him he couldn’t do that near the gas pumps.  Obvious rule, we figured. 

We spent 4 days with family in Colorado Springs, being the ultimate tourists.  On the 4th of July, we celebrated our nation’s independence by visiting Garden of the Gods and Cave of the Winds.

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The kids were so wiped out after that day, they opted out of fireworks.

On day 2, we decided to face my fear of windy roads with cliff drop-offs as we ventured to the top of Pike’s Peak.

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Day 3 brought the big Zip line day.  WHOOOT!  We went Extreme.  Welcome to the experience, baptism style.  Highest and fastest Zip line course in North America.  The kids did great.  I am sore.

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Day 4 was Water World in Denver.  Thus, it was sunscreen-o-rama.  Us flatlanders didn’t want to return home with sunburns.  Pictures of that?  I don’t think so.  Me in swimsuit on my blog?  Uh, nope. 

We drove home today.  Again, the kids were amazing.  Simply awesome.  And that is a good thing because we have one more super fast and long-mile road trip squeezed into a 5-day opening again later this summer.  We have mastered the roadtrip.

Thank-you, Colorado family, for your outstanding warmth and hospitality.  We had a fantastic time and left enough on our to-do list for our return visit soon!!

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Realities of Vacation

As my last post suggested, Bill and I just got back from a lovely get-away to police-heavy NYC.  Although we have been friends since we were three, we finally traveled with our friends A&J.  Should have done this before, we were kinda four peas in a pod.  They have a son and twin daughters, so basically, we have the exact same life except we have Crazy Man, I am not a doctor, and they don’t have a boat.  We do have some of the big stuff in common, like J and I just walk where we are told, leaving the bossy stuff up to Bill and A; J and I both walk with our hands in our sleeves when we are cold; and J and I don’t like slimy food.  So it was that we were plunked down into NYC all together because we are childhood besties who married guys who get along.  Win.

Our vacation started with a 2:30 AM wake up alarm.  Can you say, “relaxing?”  I heard a new TSA announcement here in the Fargo airport, “Attention travelers: if you plan to leave, let’s say Boston, and head to New York on the 5:15 AM flight, be sure to leave 2 hours to get through security.  However, if you are flying from, let’s say Fargo to Minneapolis on the 5:15 AM flight, please don’t arrive at the airport until 4:15 when the employees will finally go on duty.”  So we didn’t get that message until it was too late, and we wasted 45 minutes of precious sleep.

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Good morning, how may we help you?

We had a great flight attendant who told us that our flight from Fargo was delayed because it was a wee bit snowy and we needed to de-ice.  And that if any of us used de-icing time to get back on our outlawed electronics, we would be forced to wash the windows inside and out during the flight.  Ok, so I didn’t take a picture for you all.  I am all about de-icing.  I like to live.  However, that little glycol shower resulted in a necessary run across Minneapolis Airport.  I had taken Bonine (I am not a great flying girl) which, I learned the very hard way, creates the perfect condition for cotton mouth of the infinite degree.  I coughed and coughed and had to promise the kind lady sitting by me that I was not carrying the new strain of bird flu, which I think was the truth because birds had not migrated back to our parts so really no chance of bird flu.   You never know, right?

New York was full of opportunity.  A’s perfect vacation is all about food options.  Mine is all about photos.  Thus, photos of food:  (The one thing I didn’t take a picture of, but should have was the green smoothie we tried.  It had spinach, kale, parsley, celery, apple, and lemon in it and it tasted like regurgitated horse food.  That bad.  I only had to get 6 ounces down and gagged a time or two, but pure health made it down the pipe.  That was the first morning and it was all uphill from there.)

1  Magnolia Cupcakes

burger Max Brenner

canolli  Cake Boss Cannoli

cheesecake  Cheesecake from Cake Boss

cookie Lavain Cookies

fondu Chocolate Fondue at Max Brenner Chocolate Restaurant

rootbeer Brooklyn Root beer at Grimaldi’s Pizza

Soup Dumplings  Soup Dumpling from Joe Shanghai

Getting from one restaurant to another entailed a lot of walking.  One day, we walked about 17 miles.  And I wanted to look cute for all our pictures, of course, so I wore these shoes:

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Big mistake.  Never do that.  Wear tennis shoes or something like that.  But tennis shoes look dumb with these capris and I sure didn’t want to look stupid in NYC of all places.

So when we posed, I made sure my feet were in pictures.

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Here is an important side story:  Remember to call your credit card company (yes, we used one there – it is used for travel only) before you leave so you don’t spend precious time on the phone verifying that it was you who is on a East Coast spending spree.

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Back to the miles we put on.  Most of them were planned, but it seemed in the New York game of whack-a-mole, we were losers.  Go on subway, get off subway at correct stop but when you poke your head above ground, you have no idea where north is so you walk the direction you think you need to go, only to learn it was absolutely 180 degrees wrong.  Pro, extra steps on pedometer; con, you are wearing shoes now laced with Band-Aids.  Next time, we will bring a compass. That won’t look dumb at all, will it?  Probably carry it in my fanny pack.

We had a great time, and somehow I gained weight and Bill didn’t – that is the way it works, right?  I am working on getting it off, he is working on losing even more.  Dangitty Dang dang.

The cultural options in NYC are vast.  So many museums to choose from.  We chose this one:

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The wildlife was also incredible.

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All good things must come to an end, and Monday morning, J&A left us to head home.  We were sad and didn’t know how to find food on our own.  We went to the airport early because that is how we roll (remember how vacation started?) and this time, it worked to our advantage.  Due to the federal government wanting their budget setting inabilities to be painful for us, flights in and out were delayed.  Delta was handing out cookies, pretzels, and peanuts along with beverages in the gate area because of the masses of people just hoping to get out of there and this was one time I wished I was drinking Coke.  We caught an earlier flight into the cities, knowing our original plan wouldn’t work (we only had 45 minutes between flights if everything was on time), made it to the cities only to find nasty weather (welcome home!!!!) had delayed our last flight.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  We are down to one runway and the de-icing line is backed way up, so we are just going to sit here with the door open until we know what to do.”  Great.  We did make it home, just a wee bit late, sad thing was our luggage did not, and sometime that day between the airport madness and all the NYC food catching up to my non-trusty stomach, I felt like garbage and had to take a day to recover from vacation.  Life is like that, I guess.

I will gladly go back to NYC – it was really quite fun and if you like feeling insignificant against the backdrop of larger-than-life indulgence and throngs of people taking it all in, you will like it too.

Our Picture Perfect Mini-VaCa

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Body Works

This three day weekend brought a little staycation for the Pieper clan.  We went to the cities to get ourselves some culturing.  Things we planned combined with bonus occurrences made for one awesome weekend.

Saturday morning, we went to the Minnesota Science Museum where Crazy Man immediately made friends with a Museum Volunteer talking about bear crap.  They also talked about beaver parts.  This was in the first 3 minutes – the museum was a big hit with him.  He was most impressed by the live baby opossums in a jar, but I never saw proof of that.  (Wow, JP is sitting here and he just learned that ‘possums are actually called opossums.  You might be a redneck if…)

The big draw to the Science Museum was the Body Works Exhibit.  We were excited that the kids were old enough to see plasticized bodies because a few years ago when the exhibit was there, we had to skip it.  Lets just say that the boys had a hard time looking at all the “man parts” on display and that if we learned only one thing, it was that JP does NOT want to be plasticized and put on display.   He saw one too many franks and beans.  Crazy Man was slightly amused by the positioning of the beans on a couple of the bodies.  I hope there are not hidden cameras anywhere in there.   If so, someone watching was getting humored. 

Princess was grossed out completely.  She shivered and it wasn’t in delight.  Curly was most excited to see a brain in a jar, and really was impressed by the spinning brain.  Pretty much, the young ladies walked ahead and found benches until those of us learning stuff caught up. 

After the Science Museum, we ventured to REI where Crazy Man immediately got lost and by lost I mean we didn’t know where he was exactly, but he was in his own glorious mecca of awesomeness.  He loves all things carabineer and oh, do they have a bunch of them!  He came out with a bird call.  Oh, and the kids climbed the rock wall like monkeys.

We went to the Mall of America and watched some hooligans get denied entrance by the Rent-a-PoPo and also found the Peeps store, where I got my most bestest shirt ever.  A big unveiling will occur at a later date.  I found a calendar titled “Peep Show” and wondered if they knew about my Piep Show and figured probably not because I am not all famous and stuff. 

We ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory because Fargo doesn’t have such culture.  They have a skinny menu, and we took full advantage of it.  Someone ate the world’s largest 540 calorie salad and let me tell you, that is a monster plate full of delicious roughage going in and consequential…well, you gotta go to Body Works to understand the rest of the story.  

Sunday brought plummeting temperatures but we never even left the hotel because we spent the day at the Water Park of America.   We climbed 10 stories to raft down the slides.  We floated the lazy river.  We joined 100 others in the hot tub.  We tried the Flow Rider.  We had a blast.  And, we saw more bodies on display than we had at Body Works, and these were mostly overfed, underdressed varieties.  The neatest accessory we saw was an awesome anklet on a lady.  It was black and strapped on and had a box and we are pretty sure the PoPo knew where she was at all times with that awesome piece of bling. 

Sunday night, we all enjoyed winding down by watching a few quality TV shows that are new to us since we are all Amish and don’t have cable.  We were so excited to stumble upon Amish Mafia since were are all up on the Amish scene.  It really didn’t seem like it was all that legit, cuz the guys’ shirts were white.  That is false.  Oh, and they had cars and tractors and cell phones and all that…and tattoos, which are a sign of the devil, so can’t be real Amish.  When that show was over, we found Honey Boo Boo.  Holy Moly, and I don’t even know what to say.  Sad sad truth about society.  Those people really exist, I know that, but they don’t need a TV show.  Except that I laughed a lot.  Because she said she had ants in her butt crack.  And that made me think of Body Works because we saw lots of butt cracks there.  Oh, and at the Waterpark, lots of crack there too.  So, full circle weekend for us. 

We had to cut the trip a little short because Bill had to jet off to sunny warm locations while the rest of the Pieper clan holds down the fort and tries not to freeze our butt cracks off.

PS.  Wanna know how healthy we ate on vacation?  uh…well…ya know.

We Were Roughing It

 

We spent the past five days out in the middle of the woods being chased by wild animals.  Well, sorta, ok, not really at all.  We went camping again.  Why?  Because 1) It is a cheap way to vacation with a big family and 2) We like it.  We are somewhere closer to tent dwellers than monster-house-on-wheels people.  We have our beloved pop-up camper and we like to live in it whenever possible. 

Not much of this trip went according to plan – we had reservations at Jay Cooke State Park, which flooded, so we went towards the lakes and found 2 sites at Lake Carlos.  They were non-electric, so we were forced to really rough it.  Smile  Our boat broke down after day two, so it sat in the campsite looking all nice and dry.  It was just one of those trips.  And we had fun anyway! 

We always have fun with camping food.  One of my favorite things we ate was these noodles, which we served with Asian Chicken – I could eat this combo on a very regular basis. 

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 Sesame noodles

We also made fajitas – a perennial favorite.  I have switched to making my own seasoning following this recipe.  YUM!

For lunch one day, those of us who decided against PB&J ate chicken cheesesteaks.  Well, almost, I ran out of onions so we ate onion-free chicken cheesesteaks.  Oh, and I used gouda cheese instead of cheddar.  Spicy YUM!

And, we stumbled across another new dessert – details on that another day!

Ah, I love camping!!  (I tried out topless sunbathing.  Not true.)

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Life is full.  Life is good.  We are blessed.

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A Weekend Away

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This past weekend, our family went camping at Baker Park Reserve.  Pretty sweet place – it had everything a family could want:  a swimming beach, unlimited bike trails, awesome facilities, and a great price point.  Above all of those reasons for listing it as a favorite camping place is that between home and that place are the Albertville Outlet Mall and Cabela’s!  So schwing!  We have a new place we like to camp!!

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Good bathrooms are not always abundant at campgrounds.  I have used the push-button variety where you have to push the button to get water to come out so often that you pretty much take a one-handed shower.  I have taken showers in places where I am pretty sure one of the bazillion spiders I am sharing the stall with are going to eat me alive.  I have taken the freezing cold and the boiling hot showers.  But not here…nope.  This place has it all figured out.  A+  for bathrooms.

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And then right outside the bathrooms, this place has dishwashing sinks.  DISHWASHING SINKS, people!!  With running water!  YES!  Although this camping trip, I set a record for least amount of washing of dishes needed – like a knife and a tong.  The end.  But A++ for thinking of the people who are a little more dishwashing-ish.

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We have searched high and low for a good quality fire ring.  Bingo Daddio.  This is the MacDaddy of them all.  Some day when we have to replace ours, we just might look into a Pilot Rock.

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This place had a great playground – JP even said that if he was 8, he’d think this playground was great!  Well, at 14, he even played a little because the place has zip lines!!  Well, the zip lines aren’t exactly for adults, but I had to give it a try…

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Basically, if you are looking for a place on the north side of the Twin Cities, I recommend this place a million times over.

To the whole reason we went this weekend:  Bill has an itch to compete in a triathlon.  We wanted to watch one.  He now is talking about the road bike he needs to buy.

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We are jumping for joy about that.

Beach Wear

About a month ago, Bill and I spent a week in Jamaica.  We took in all kinds of sights.  We toured parts of the island while between the airport and Negril and then again from Negril to where we did touristy stuff.  Yup, we saw a ton of stuff that made us want to get to know the Jamaicans better.  I will blog about that soon.

We also saw a bunch of stuff that made us want to take a few tourists by the shoulders and tell them, “Really?  With the availability of swimsuits on the internet (and yes, I searched high and low, so I know) you should know better than to wear that.”  Or in some cases, “You should at least be wearing something to cover those up.”

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Because really, no one wants to see those things dangling around like National Geographic.

And then men.  Just because you can buy little banana hammocks doesn’t mean you should.  Very few men should wear those things.  Like maybe Michael Phelps and that’s about it.  300-pound men with guts bigger than mine was while I was carrying the trifecta should NOT walk around in those.

The resort had food available 24/7 but I was sick the whole time.  It could have been something I ate but I am pretty sure it was a reaction to all the saggy parts the tourists were sporting.  Here’s to you, Mr. Inventor of Imodium AD!

To you, fellow travelers who insist on being all nude on the beach, go to Hedonism II next time, I hear it is just wild.

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