We decided it was the right time in Kyde's life to take her for a real winter vacation. We had to go somewhere with good snow to play in! We came up with Colorado and plotted out our journey. We took tons of pictures and videos! The videos are not pushed into one big video, because we thought they went better separately. Enjoy!
Travel from Virginia to Estes Park Colorado - January 17, 2009
We got a ride with Chip and Aileen from Fredericksburg to Richmond, then flew from Richmond to Dallas/Ft Worth. We had a delay there because of an unspecified "problem" with our plane, so they moved us to a different plane and we made our way to Denver, picked up our rental car and finally drove into Estes Park. On the way into Estes Park, we stopped and looked at the amazing stars next to a loud river we could not see due to the dark. It was an epic moment.
This was in the Richmond airport. Good start to a trip!
Kyde likes to take pictures out of plane windows, this is one of many.
Our rental car, Becky.
Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park - January 18, 2009
The place we stayed was right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. After sleeping in a bit we headed out, drove around Estes Park a bit and then headed into the Park.
This is on the road right by where we were staying. Cool mountains.
On our drive right outside of Estes Park we stopped and played around on a frozen river.
An ongoing theme in Colorado is confusing or missing street signs. In this case, they are technically correct, but at a glance (you know, while driving) it's a little confusing.
Once inside of the National Park, we drove until the road was closed due to weather. We got out and came across this giant rock formation. Which we climbed.
Not quite to the top of the rock yet. But close.
A video of Kyde climbing up the last little bit of the giant rock. It really was an unreal height.
On top of the world.
Eric jumped off a rock and made a bitchin' dent in the snow.
A different rock, another amazing view.
We saw some kids making an igloo. Take that, Virginia.
Our first encounter with Mule Deer.
"I learned to climb like this in the Pacific Northwest."
We drove down into a cruddy little town in search of food. They had a huge frozen lake, it was pretty awesome looking.
Skiing in Winter Park (Day 1) - January 19, 2009
Our drive from Estes Park (where we were staying) to Winter Park (where we were skiing) was a bit further than expected as the road we intended to take was closed for the winter and we didn't double check that as we are stupid Virginians. It worked out though, the drive was just over 100 miles each way and took around 2.5 to 3 hours.
So, we use my laptop as an alarm clock. Apparently Colorado is in a different time zone than Virginia, and I omitted changing my laptop's time when we got there. So, when I set my alarm for 6:00am we ended up getting up at 4am. It took us 27 minutes to realize "holy crap are we up too early."
Sunrise on the way out of Estes Park.
As we drove down the system of mountain roads on the way to Winter Park we came across this foxy fox. It wasn't too concerned with us and we got pretty close to it with the car which gave us the chance to see how utterly beautiful it was. This was the best picture we got as we were distracted by the foxiness of the fox when we were upclose.
This is at the midpoint of Winter Park.. Seriously, it goes A LOT further up. Crazy.
Another shot from the middle of the mountain.
There is a "Chili Shack" at the midpoint of the mountain. Kyde fed this little bird a Dorito. I'm pretty sure they are best friends.
Kyde coming down from her "black diamond adventure." She lived, barely.
On a lift, I assume.
Between Winter Park and Estes Park there is literally NOTHING. We ended up frighteningly low on gas on the way back in the middle of the night. I'm pretty sure if the last 10 miles hadn't been downhill we would have been spending the night lost on the middle of nowhere with no cell signal. Thank you gravity!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Casa Bonita - January 19, 2009
Today we set aside time to go to Colorado Springs (about 3 hours from Estes Park) to hit up the AMAZING Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Casa Bonita in Denver. This zoo really is stunning, if you're ever in the area you'd be foolish to miss it.
The first animal encounter at the zoo is with the giraffes. This is the first one we saw. I can do that too.
This is the 'nubbin cam'! It is a live webcam that the zoo puts up on the web for people to check out what the giraffes are doing. We have been rather obsessed with this cam for about a year now and it's been a running gag with some people I work with that I'm going to actually go out to the 'nubbin cam'.
So I did. And A dude I work with saved the pictures of us there. This is me on the phone telling him to "F5 the nubbin cam."
We bought some crackers to feed the giraffes. See tongue.
See tongue pt 2.
Kyde squealing as she feeds a giraffe some crackers. A tight zoom on a fuzzy nubbins. A giraffe making out with a fence. A shot of the under-a-year-old baby giraffe and the nubbin neighbors, some ugly pig things.
The baby giraffe had the fuzziest nubbins of them all.
This goat thing was doing a pretty good job of staring at the wall.
The zoo is basically built into the side of a mountain. This is the view from the giraffe enclosure which is basically at the lowest point of the zoo.
This is the inside of the giraffe house. And here we have your standard Kyde.
On the way up the hill, we came across some pretty active monkeys.
And then we came across this, which was just really really funny. The wallabies just seemed annoyed with the peacock, but the peacock seemed PISSED OFF.
Kyde had a fake bear encounter.
And then we had a real one. This bear enclosure is really cool, if you look up the hill they have a mountain-type area that is actually pretty large to go up, and at the bottom there is this fake little pond they can get into that actually has real fish in it. Obviously, there is some glass between the bear and the people, but in a very intense moment this bear was slamming his giant paws against the glass right where we were sitting with our faces against it. He was totally aware we were there and it was all very overwhelming in a good way. A good example of how cool this zoo is.
Casa Bonita is CRAZY. My friend Justin told us to go as he used to live in the Denver area. He explained it as "Chuck-e-Cheese on crack," which is probably a pretty good description, only it's less dirty than a Chuck-e-Cheese's and they serve Mexican food instead of bad pizza. There are cliff divers, dudes in gorilla suits, gun fights, a scary cave, arcades and fire jugglers to name a few things. It's just unreal.
This is inside of Casa Bonita. You walk down this absurdly long mess of an empty line to get to the point where you order food. You place your order then head down more of the empty line to a point where it is unclear as what to do. We just walked right on by, but were informed you need to pick up your food and take it to your table. We also show the walk into the main dining area followed by the Mariachi band and one of the cliff divers. If you just want to see the cliff diver jump to 7:30.
We were trying to set the timer on our camera to take out picture behind the waterfall the cliff divers jump off of and another couple got in the shot. Kyde said "do you want to be in a picture?" and they said "no" and then POOF the camera went off. Haha.
This was in one of the arcades. Hrm.
Skiing in Winter Park (Day 2) - January 21, 2009
We headed back up to Winter Park again. Good times.
We decided we should probably lick the snow in the rocky mountains.
This is nearly the top of the mountain. Pretty epic stuff.
I decided to ski through the woods and ended up getting lost for a bit. It was getting close to 4pm which is when the lifts that I needed to ride to get to the base again were shutting down, so it was a little nerve wracking, but I made it!
Here I come down the last bit of the last run of the day.
Cool view from the road Winter Park is off of.
Fort Collins and Wyoming - January 22, 2009
On Thursday, we took it easy and slept in a bit. When we finally headed out, we went toward Fort Collins as I had dropped one of my gloves the day before during skiing and needed to buy a new set. We eventually found an REI and got a good pair for $20 which was really awesome. Afterwards, we headed north toward Wyoming. We saw an Anheuser-Bush factory on the map, so we decided to stop and see if they had tours. They did! After the tour and the free root beer samples, we went to Cheyenne, hit up some craptastic museum, found a decent pizza place and headed back to Estes Park!
In Estes Park, we hit up this place for breakfast. We thought it was a small mom+pop place, but later that day we realized it was a chain as we saw more of them. Hahaha.
The outside of the Anheuser-Bush factory.
They had a team of clydesdales at the factory. This one is "Darth." I think he's an evil Jedi.
This is the packaging region of the factory. Pretty amazing stuff.
Our tour consisted of Kyde, me, one tour guide (Will) and like 30 7th graders. They stuffed ALL of us into one elevator. You can see our tour guide smiling at the camera, he's the guy with the bro-fro. I'm not sure if he was old enough to legally drink or not, but he may have been drunk during the tour. Haha.
Fermentation tanks. Really just stunning how much booze was in this room. There were hundreds of these tanks.
The skies of northern Colorado look HUGE.
Why-oh-why are we in Wyoming?
We met this cow. He was named Clifford P. Hansen, apparently.
Skiing in Winter Park (Day 3) - January 23, 2009
Our last day at Winter Park was intense. The following video explains the day pretty well. Basically we woke up to snow and had a slow, but safe, drive from Estes Park to Winter Park. It included a really cool encounter with some Mule Deer. We had an AMAZING ski adventure in fresh powder that was measured in feet at the top of the mountain by the end of the day. We capped it off with a slow, dangerous drive to Boulder where we stayed the night with my friend, Jay.
By the end of the day, we were literally frozen. Look at Kyde's hair. Blocks of ice are stuck in it.
Not to mention my beard which was in the same condition.
This is how much fresh powder fell at the base of the mountain in the 5 hours our car was parked there.
This is my friend Jay. Well, a really old picture of him. He lives in Boulder now and he was nice enough to let us stay at his place for the night so our drive to the airport in the morning wouldn't be such a nightmare. We also went out and got some amazing food at a pizza joint in Boulder with him. Good times. Thanks Jay!
This is his house. I never saw it in the daylight to take a picture of it, so google maps saved me.
Back to Virginia - January 24, 2009
We woke up early and headed out of Jay's place toward the Denver airport. After another delay in Dallas/Ft Worth, we made our way home. Chip and Aileen picked us up from Richmond and after a quick stop by a ghetto mall got us to our destinations!