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!

https://vimeo.com/193652365

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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This year we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary by taking an extended weekend in Crested Butte and surrounding area.  We took a couple of days off work and headed out on a Thursday morning.  We were anticipating seeing some Aspen leaves changing, but it was a bit early.  We enjoyed driving over Kebler Pass and into Paonia where we found a delicious farm to table cafe. We also tested 4 local wineries: Black Bridge, Stone Cottage Cellars, Terror Creek Winery, and Azura Cellars. Paonia is the “Palasade” of the east side of the Grand Mesa, so the fruit is abundant; however they tend to make their wines in a smaller more “European” style (so we were told).  We really enjoyed visiting with the wine makers. We then drove down along the eastern edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and back up to CB. The next day we decided to drive another road called Ohio Pass with better fall colors and paused for a short hike up to Beaver Ponds. We ended the day with dinner at Garlic Mike’s right outside of Gunnison.  This was the same restaurant we had dinner the evening we got married!  The food was delicious!!! When we left it was rainy which provided some different scenery for photos and we decided to drive a different route up to Taylor  Park Reservoir and Cottonwood Pass to Cottonwood Lake. It was a great weekend to get away and relax.

 

Or watch video directly on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/108081874

 

 

 

For the past 3 years Kara has helped to organize a conference for people who are a part of or interested in simple church.  The conference is put on by the LK10 organization and has been attended by 50-60 people from all over the US and sometimes the world.  It is such a great time of sharing with others about simple forms of church. We practice “table churches” for the weekend where everyone is a part of a small church to share their hearts and listen to God together.  As we have attended these past 3 years we have enjoyed getting to know others who are like minded in this area. We had the conference this year at Bear Trap Conference center and had such a great time relaxing and enjoying the mountains.

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A year ago some friends told us about a backpacking trip that the did together.  They loved it and wanted to try to win a raffle for the group site over 4th of July weekend.  We told them we were in if they got it.  IMG_0026

Come January, we found out they won the raffle so plans were assembled. Over the Independence Day weekend, we executed the 15 mile round-trip hike up to Crater Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, south of Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was beautiful and we had a blast. Thanks to the Curry family for inviting us along!IMG_0205

Lone Eagle Peak reflecting in Mirror Lake was one of the highlights of the site!!

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Video of our photos @ http://vimeo.com/100074682

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a countdown to tell you about our vacation in a fun way.

Top 5 of Moab:

5. Scenic Drive on Utah Highway 128 through the canyon bordered by the Colorado River!  (Followed up with a hike through Fisher Towers)

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4. Backpacking into Elephant Canyon, the 8 mile hike in The Needles and specifically seeing Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park!

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3. Ranger guided Fiery Furnace hike in Arches National Park!

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2. Total of 34 miles hiked through Utah desert in this amazing region of the US!  Lots of great photography!

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1. Final outdoor adventure with only the two of us!

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Honorable Mentions:

  • Being completely unplugged from technology for almost an entire week.
  • Surviving on only one shower in 7 days, yikes!
  • Cold drinks and A/C after hikes on the hot days.
  • Remembering that the tent doesn’t keep the sand out.
  • Cool temperatures on several different days to better enjoy hiking.
  • Kara’s first time pooping in a bag and Nick’s [astonishing] pooping twice in one day at two national parks in two different states (UT/Arches then CO/Black Canyon of Gunnison).

Please watch this 15 minute video which has many of the photos that depict our latest adventure!

http://vimeo.com/98244593

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This year we were blessed to celebrate Christmas with the Reimer family.  Kara’s mom and dad flew in from AZ and brother with family from MI.  We made two airport runs on Christmas eve to get everyone.  Christmas day we spent playing games, hanging out and eating fondue!  We then took a day to go skiing and enjoy Dillon Dam Brewery. Even 8 year old Silas did great skiing Loveland Slopes.  Then we spent a beautiful sunny day in downtown Denver ice skating and playing in Wash Park. That evening my brother and his wife and Nick and I went out to discover some more CO beer.  We discovered Black Sky Brewery and ate at Vine Street with a happy hour check at Jake‘s in downtown Littleton. Saturday we headed up to check out the Celestial Seasonings Tea room and factory.  It was fun to see the factory in production and hang out a little in Boulder.  We finished off our last evening together with homemade pizza, chocolate fondue and dominoes.