Our second full day in Colorado was a big one. I’d asked Dan to show us the very best of his adopted home state, and he came through in a major way, starting with Indian Peaks Wilderness. If he was trying to show us how spectacular the scenery is less than thirty minutes from his house, he succeeded.
We got to Indian Peaks and suited up in our winter gear. The temperatures were very low – the Boulder-Denver area was enduring a vicious cold snap while we were there – but it wasn’t particularly windy that day, so it was really quite comfortable in the sun. Dan told us that we were going to walk to Brainard Lake, and he promised that it was only about a half mile hike along the road. Normally, he explained, we’d drive all the way, park near the lake, and hike the trails – which would be more to everyone’s enjoyment. But on this particular day, the road was closed – whether that was for the season, or just because of the snowfall, I don’t know – so our hike became a road walk. Although we’d have loved to explore the trails, a road walk was okay by us, too. There was snow on ground and it was deep in some areas, and we were up over 10,000 feet of elevation, so anything to make the walk a bit easier on the littles was welcome. The road was nice, but Dan’s promised half mile turned out to be two miles each way! Oops. It was just more scenery, and the kids were champs, so in the end it was fine.
Heading off on our walk! See that mountain? Our goal lake is at the base.
Shortly after beginning our walk, Dan pointed out a small path leading down to a pristine little pond. Steve wanted to stay on the road, so Nugget, Dan and I opted for a quick visit. So beautiful!
Seriously feeling so happy to be able to share all this natural beauty with my little boy!
We continued on our way, marveling with every step at the jaw-droppingly gorgeous views. As you can see, although this was a “road hike” it was still quite challenging! Between snow and ice making some of the footing treacherous, and wading through ankle-deep powder in other spots, plus the high elevation, it definitely wasn’t the easiest stroll we’d ever taken. I was happy to be getting in a good workout, though, and the mountains made for a good distraction from burnin’ legs and lungs.
Holla, Pawnee! I got unreasonably excited to see a sign for Pawnee Campground! Dan did not understand why I was laughing and snapping pictures because – now, this may come as a shock – he doesn’t watch Parks & Recreation. I know. I was appalled, too. But I forgave him, and instructed him to watch it ASAP.
Somewhere in there, the little dude fell asleep. That’s one cozy snowsuit!
Finally, just when our endurance was starting to flag, we made it to Brainard Lake… and the long walk turned out to be well worth it.
Cannot. Handle. The. Beauty.
After a tough year, many sleepless nights caring for a newborn and worrying about the future, it felt so good to be together as a family in such an awe-inspiring place. All our hard work and struggles just seemed to drop away as we took in the beauty all around us. I know it’s cheesy, too, but I was so grateful that Peanut and Nugget got to take this trip – even though they’re little, and Peanut will probably remember very little of it, and Nugget none at all. I want them to grow up with an appreciation for our beautiful natural places, and this trip was a good early step toward that goal.
After taking in the view for awhile, we headed back toward the car and made our drive down through the mountains, back to Dan’s house. We reunited with Danielle – who sadly had to work most days, and was missed very much during the activities she couldn’t attend – and headed out for dinner in Nederland, a cool little town not far from Dan and Danielle’s cabin. Our first stop in Nederland was the Carousel of Happiness, an all-wooden indoor carousel. I was a little stressed about some work drama (that lasted all week) but this Carousel did put a smile on my face the moment I saw it.
We managed to squeak in for the last ride of the evening. Dan and Danielle grabbed animals to ride on…
While Peanut and Daddy settled onto a bench. Peanut was pretty apprehensive about the whole thing – the carousel employees actually nicely delayed the start for us while we tried to talk her into riding. In the end she pretty much had to be dragged on, but I think she had a good time! Nugget and I didn’t ride – we had fun watching the lights, listening to the music, and waving at the rest of the family as they went by. (In retrospect, I probably could have brought Nugget on and sat with him on one of the benches. But someone had to be the photographer!)
Peanut was a lot less apprehensive once she was off the carousel. She enjoyed petting this wooden tiger. What a nut!
After the carousel, we headed to an Indian restaurant that Dan and Danielle had been wanting to try out. Since we’re all big fans of Indian food, it felt like a great fit – the food was delicious, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which meant very few people had their dinners ruined by our rambunctious children.
Nugget sat on Aunt Danielle’s lap and made grabs for her water while Steve and I attempted to bribe, threaten, cajole and browbeat Peanut into eating dinner. (Every. Single. Night.) Nederland was so cool – I just wish we’d gotten to see it in daylight! And I wish we’d been able to explore more of the trails around Brainard Lake. I guess we’ll just have to go back!
Next week, I’m taking a week off from recaps to celebrate a little guy who is turning ONE! But the week after that, we explore Denver – check back in two weeks!