Adventures


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Nicolas’ grandparents have birthdays very close together, so the family decided to throw a party since this year would be Grandpa’s 90th.  I decided that Ivan and I should road trip to Kansas City before to hang out with old friends.  We took off early Friday morning and much to my delight he enjoyed the car ride: listening and reading books much of the time.  We picked out a few special surprises from the dollar store so that helped as well!   I got to catch up with many friends from Kansas City past as well as other pasts. Ivan was such a trooper and we would leave one house of “new friends” and he would always ask, “Where are we going to next, Mommy?”

After a week of visits Nick flew into Kansas City and then the next morning we headed to Newton, KS to hang out with his family.  Newton was having a few festivals that we tried to enjoy but the rain kept us inside. Ivan didn’t mind as we utilized the hotel pool!  The birthday party was a success! Then on Sunday we spent the day with Nick’s dad and some other family.

The drive home with Nick was enjoyable and Ivan again did a great job in the car.  A most successful trip.

 

Click here for a video of the trip:https://vimeo.com/240845130

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Nick surprised Kara by booking 2 nights without Ivan at Steamboat Springs for anniversary celebration.  We had such a great time doing what we can’t do with Ivan: ejoying a 3 hr dinner with wine, walking along the river and talking, scenic drive, sitting with wine by the river, relaxinging in the hot springs.  We also enjoyed the chair lift up and the alpine slide down the mountain.

Here’s a link for a short photo video:https://vimeo.com/240541301

June 30th we headed out to Wyoming. We drove to Casper, WY and spent the night then headed to Livingston, MT for an overnight before entering Yellowstone National Park through the north entrance in Gardiner, MT.

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Friday and Saturday we enjoyed a relaxed drive with stops to eat and play at playgrounds. We ate delicious dinners at Silver Fox steakhouse and Neptune’s Brewery! Ivan loved the sushi and the server was delighted that he would order himself and enjoy sushi so much! We also ran into a car show in Sheridan, WY, with many diverse cars to look at.

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Great food, entertainment, atmosphere, and beer

Sunday: We entered the park and explored along the way to our campsite at the Madison campground. We hiked all over Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser and Artists Paint Pots.  Due to the danger of the geysers and hot springs I wore Ivan on my back the majority of the time. It was good to let him get out and play when we had picnic lunches or back at the campsite at the end of the day.

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Monday began with a Ranger led hike around Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. We then hiked up to an overlook point and around to Solitude Geyer. We saw many hot springs at Biscuit Basin and then took the short hike to Mystic Falls.

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We decided that on Tuesday we would explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, so we took a ranger led hike along the rim. We trekked the 328 steps to see the Upper falls on Uncle Tom’s trail.  After getting showers, clean clothing, and lunch we headed off again to drive along the Yellowstone River to Mud Volcano where we saw 2 Bison enjoying themselves near the steam.  We went to Sulpher Caldron to see more hot springs and bubbly water. Ivan loved the stop in at Lake Village Visitor’s Center to play in the sand/water of Yellowstone Lake. We continued the drive around the lake and found a picnic spot with a view and ended the day at the Midway Geyser Basin to view Grand Prismatic Spring.  Nick and I both agreed that it was a bit disappointing since there is currently no trail to a higher vantage point. After a long day we were glad to be back at our tent to sleep!

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Wednesday was our final day in Yellowstone and we decided to take it easy. We also ran out of coffee so Nick was dragging. We headed to the original store near Old Faithful and got some coffee on the large patio with wooden rocking chairs.  We toured the old turn of the century Old Faithful Inn and watched the eruption from the balcony. After lunch we then headed over to watch the video at the Visitor’s Center. We then headed out to the Firehole River area to do a scenic drive and just happened upon an erupting geyser. This was the only other one we saw fully erupt.  We paused at Firehole River Falls before finding an area in the Firehole river that Ivan and Nick could swim. We ended the day with a campfire and hotdogs and meeting new camping neighbors.

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Moving day was Thursday. It rained overnight so we packed up a soggy tent and headed to Grand Teton National Park and to the Colter Bay tent cabins. Thankfully ours was clean so we could “move in” and set up the tent to dry. After lunch and repacking our tent we headed to do the drive all the way through the park to the south entrance and visitor’s center. After exploring the visitor’s center and catching the park video we headed out to do the Jenny Lake scenic drive. We took in the view at the top of Signal Mountain and ended the day playing at the Jackson Lake beach area at Colter Bay with a picnic dinner.

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IMG_1805Grand Teton does not seem to have many varieties of small hikes so we meandered along the Lakeshore Trail then arrived at the Colter Bay visitors center in time for a lunch snack and a National Geographic Documentary about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone in 1995. It was interesting and Ivan did great throughout as well.  We then decided to go check out Jackson Lake Lodge and get coffee. We drove out to a scenic lake a bit away from the main area of the park and ended up back at Jackson Lake Lodge to go swimming.  We all enjoyed the pool and shower before getting on a boat tour for dinner.  The boat tour was a fun last splurge and we enjoyed the steak and fish dinner on Elk Island.

Saturday we were on the road by 6am and with only a few stops made it home in about 10 hrs.  It was a long drive and Ivan did great and we were all glad to be back in our own bed.

Highlights of the trip include:

  • Seeing wildlife: bear, bison, birds, moose, deer, pronghorn
  • Experiencing Ivan spreading joy to multitudes of strangers
  • Watching the thermal features and learning about the geography
  • Playing license plate game and spotting all but one of the 50 states and many Canadian Provinces as well
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May was filled with Nick’s family coming to help his sister and her family move to Phoenix, AZ.  His dad came to help with the moving truck then after Memorial Day his mom flew in to help Abby take the girls down to AZ.  In the middle of all of that Nick took Ivan camping in the Great Sand Dunes National Park over Memorial day weekend and I had a wonderful relaxing quiet weekend by myself and with friends.

Here is a short video about the adventures. https://vimeo.com/223233531

 

 

We had the privilege of being invited to go on vacation with a Nick’s uncle (who was celebrating turning 50) and some of his friends. It was over Thanksgiving which is a holiday we usually try to stay home for, however this was a great opportunity. I flew down with Ivan the day before his birthday to squeeze in one final free flight and Nick joined 2 days later.

We stayed in Playa Del Carmen at a resort.  I felt very pampered staying at a resort. I didn’t have to cook, clean, drive or really entertain Ivan for 12 days!!  He loved the beach, so all we really had to do was take him and he would dig and dig and play for so long.  We of course enjoyed playing with him, but it was also such a joy to just watch him having fun. Nick really challenged him to get in the water with the waves as well as conquer the “big slides” at the Aqua Center. Ivan also loved all the animals that we found on the resort: monkeys, donkeys, chickens, roosters, bunnies, ducks, birds, raccoons, macaws, peacocks, and coatis.

Ivan was such a blessing to others with his smile and pleasant demeanor.  We made quite a few friends of the staff from cleaning to building to restaurant workers. The resort had different evenings with shows telling about the Mayan culture, and legends. Ivan saw parts of some of the shows and really enjoyed the “dancing owl”.

We were able to do a day excursion to Tulum, a Mayan Ruin site discovered in the 80’s.  We had a private tour for our group which was nice. It included free time to walk around and shop as well.  We also had a terrific day on a private boat that we all pitched in together to rent.  So Thanksgiving was spent on the water! We swam in the ocean, ate on the beach at Isla Mujeres, snorkeled at some reefs, held (photo opportunity) a shark, and just relaxed in the sun on the boat while it coasted along!  What a great way to celebrate and be thankful for our so many blessings.

Here is a video of our highlights!

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img_0042This fall has been the 5th warmest in CO history.  We have taken full advantage by getting outdoors and enjoying all the parks and playgrounds near by.  Ivan would still be swimming if it were up to him.  He loves the pool and water.  Thankfully we have indoor ones to enjoy. Anyway, we were able to take a trip up to Bellingham, WA to see my parents and grandparents for a week the end of September. We enjoyed mostly sunny days up there.  We also went to the CO Mennonite Central Committee Sale in La Junta, CO to see Nicolas’ family.  Nick had a great idea of carving a pumpkin so Ivan could sit in it.  It turned out really cute, then it got a happy face, thanks to our neighbor.  Finally I took him trick or treating with some friends in their neighborhood for Halloween. He enjoyed the idea of collecting treats, even though he doesn’t know what candy is and didn’t get to eat any of it.  😉  I can still control that, for now!

Check out the video below for some fun pictures.

Or Click here to see the Video at Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/189885440

P1260065While camping this summer, Nicolas made a comment that he wanted to do a backpacking trip while Ivan was still little enough to carry.  We planned it for his birthday weekend. We decided to go on a trail off a 4*4 road that looked pretty secluded on the map we had. We packed up Saturday morning early and got on the trail about 11am.  We were hiking beside a creek and up in elevation.  We knew after a while we would loose our water source, so we had to decide if we were going back down or continue up.  Nicolas was by then carrying Ivan and he felt good, so we kept going.  The view from the top was beautiful and we enjoyed it. We then needed to find water to set up camp, so we went down the other side of the mountain and pretty much hiked the whole 11.5 mile trail before we found water and a place to tent. We set up tent exhausted and hungry.  We slept reasonably well and packed up in the morning and headed back out knowing we had a long hike back to the car.  We had some great time talking together, listening to Ivan chat and thinking quietly as well.

Here’s a fun picture of Kara and Ivan from our first backpacking trip side by side with this trip. IMG_0359

Check out the video of our adventures below: https://vimeo.com/179750804

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