It has been two years since our last failed attempt at a family trip to the mountains (which you can read about here). Since then, we have taken trips with the help of grandparents, or leaving the twins home, but not yet on our own with all 4 kids.
I decided it was time to tackle a Vogan family mini-vacation: Estes Park at the YMCA of the Rockies Camp, for 3 days.
The trip was a success! Now the experienced parents of 4, we packed well, planned driving with naptimes, and survived with 6 people in 1 room. The camp we stayed at (which I highly recommend) included putt-putt golfing, swimming, a craft center, playground, hiking, rollerskating, basketball, soccer, and any other sport you can think of. It also had a buffet cafeteria with free meals for kids 5 and under, which is a major score for our family!
The boys loved putt-putt. I tried to teach Adrian how to hit the ball properly, but he had absolutely no interest in playing the “right” way. He remained convinced that golf should be played like hockey, and that it’s a race to see who can get the ball in the hole first. He raced around the course, delightedly shrieking “I won! I won!” after he knocked his ball in the hole after 15 mad dashes, while Stephen and I trailed behind, aiming and shooting accurately with fewer strokes–aka “losing” according to 4 year old golf rules.
At Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove bravely up the mountain to a short waterfall hike and arrived at the trailhead to discover 2 feet of snow and ice, and light snow beginning to fall.
“Guess we won’t need the ponchos!” I said positively.
Eric blanched, but I insisted we continue. After all, what kind of Coloradan balks at hiking through snow at 11,000 feet with a 2 year old on her back? Not this one!
Eric and I strove to keep our footing with the twins on our backs, while Adrian slipped all over the trail, spending more time on his knees or bottom than on his feet. Although Will and I remained admirably upright, I took pity on poor little Adrian and turned the group around.
We retreated to a lower, and therefore snow-free trail and enjoyed a walk around Sprague Lake.
Will and Reid, good little Coloradans that they are, insisted they escape the packs and walk themselves. Will’s new favorite phrase is, “I do it, self!” and then “I did it!” Reid happily tags along.
Will discovered an unbridled passion for rocks, pointing out all the rocks as we passed.
“Mommy, mommy, ROCK!” He’d shout, pointing. “Big rock! Wow!”
Reid also enjoyed climbing and seeing the views.
We saw lots of wildlife. After dinner one evening, a deer was happily munching a bush outside our lodge. I pointed it out, crouching down to their level to point at the deer. Reid and Will immediately hunkered down on either side of me, exclaiming, “Animal! Animal! Wo-ow! Wo-ow!” while looking at the dirt, rocks, and every direction except the actual deer.
I kept pointing at the deer. “Babies! Babies, look that way! Do you see the deer? Wow, look!”
They grinned happily while continuing to look directly at the ground in front of them. “Deer! Wo-ow! Deer!” They exclaimed. I’m not sure they actually ever saw the deer, but they were very excited just the same.
Once, I pointed out a chipmunk to Will, but he sternly corrected me.
“Bunny-rabbit!” He said.
“Honey, that’s a chipmunk,” I told him.
“No, Mommy. Bunny rabbit! Bunny rabbit!” He yelled, pointing at the chipmunk.
Whenever he saw a bird, he would run at it, yelling, “Birdie! Birdie!” And after it flew away in panic, he’d keep running in that direction, shouting, “I get it! I get it! Birdie! I get it!” Sadly, he never did manage to catch a bird.
Stephen and Adrian painted ceramics in the craft center. We couldn’t take Adrian’s bowl right away because first it needed to be fired in the kiln. Adrian was quite distressed that his bowl was going into a “hot hot fire,” understandably dubious that fire would be good for his bowl.
Stephen improved his rollerskating skills, bravely skating around the rink. Adrian had no more luck staying upright on roller-skates than he had on ice, and quickly joined Reid and Will on the bench.
I am proud to say it was a successful trip, and despite some bumps and snow on the trails, we had a great time.