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Swimming Happiness – #Colorado2015 Part 4

We found happiness! We dumped our stuff in our rooms at the Springhill Suites in Westminster and found the pool.

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This photo cracks me up. Ever since Steady broke her leg a new dimension of play has been manifesting. Can you spot it? This is the best swim therapy spa for the children who have broken random limbs! And the shark mask.

I love that these people have taught me how to have fun and go with the flow. How to sit back and let our hard experiences, our hurts, tumble around and come out as silly and carefree.

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After a solid three hours of swimming and imaginations wearing down, I convinced the crew we should go get some ice cream and explore the area. We discovered that the Butterfly Pavilion was not more than a handful of minutes away and we decided to check it out. Lately the girls are obsessed with butterflies. So much so that we are growing milkweed in our backyard. I have to roll my eyes and laugh at every time I say that out loud. One of my first jobs was riding beans in Iowa and milkweed always required a special bottle of roundup. They were like the worst thing you could ever find in a field.  Now I am trying to grow them in my city back yard. Oh, the circles of life!

The pavilion was like every other one but it was a welcome distraction as we passed time waiting to pick up Dad from the airport. Oh, and Rosie the tarantula was pretty cool!

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Hanging Lake Trail – Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Who doesn’t love Colorado?

My husband grew up in Loveland, CO, and he bleeds orange (Bronco fanatic).  Combine that fact with the fact that we have family and friends who live in the area and that makes Colorado one of our favorite places to visit too!  It sometimes seems as if we will never exhaust the opportunities for exploration!

This past May, we packed up van and headed west for an extended weekend.  It was our first significant road trip as a family of 7 and the trip was born out of a desire to go catch up with family and celebrate a graduation of one of my cousins.  This trip was a perfect marriage of hanging out with relatives and carving our own family adventure.  After a few days and a celebration in Golden, CO, we loaded up the van and headed west to Glenwood Springs.  While we did find ourselves needing to temper our expectations of the kids being in awe of the scenery, Matt and I did truly enjoy the drive.  It was beautiful!

We had two adjoining rooms at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge.  We had tossed around other hotel options, but decided that this was worth the few extra dollars, which honestly were not that much because as a family of seven you need two rooms, or a house, no matter where you stay.  And it worked out great because the kids could play (leave crumbs in the bed) in their room and we could keep a room clean for us.  Bonus!

The hot spring pool itself was amazing!  Truly!  Imagine coming from an Iowa winter, out to Colorado where the temps were pleasant but not hot, and then being able to swim outside, in fresh air, and hot water.

Best.Spring.Vacation.Idea.Ever!

The next day we went to the Glenwood Springs Cavern Adventure Park.  We found parking near the Iron Mountain Tramway Station and after securing ticket we began our ascent to the park.  Our family fit in one tram and we felt quite safe and comfortable.  We did have one child get the jitters and burst into tears as she realized the steepness of the slope.  By using simple distraction techniques and keeping her engaged in conversation we were able to overcome and persevere.  Once we got to the top and her feet were on the ground she was ready for the adventure!

We toured a cave, ate lunch on top of the mountain looking out at the snow caps and let the kids do a ride before we called it a day and headed back to our room for some relaxation!  It did take some time to get down to the parking lot, but nothing that seemed incredibly unreasonable.

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On our last day in Glenwood Springs, we got up and drove to Hanging Lake Hiking Trail.  Of everything I searched on the internet while planning this trip, this trail was one that I found great reviews about over and over again. It did not disappoint!  The trail is around 1.2 miles and 1,000 feet up in elevation climb one way!  Although I read a lot about how busy the trail can be, I have to say that it was not to terribly busy when we were there.  The morning was chilly and we found ourselves wishing we had a few more layers on although by the time we reached mid-way we felt overdressed!  

What impressed me the most about this trail was that while it certainly had steep parts and rocks to climb over, our 3 year old son was able to navigate and climb most of the trail on his own (with some encouragement because of course being carried is always more fun when you are the baby of a family and mom falls for that stuff).  And in hindsight, he was a blessing because we paced ourselves to his pace which helped all of us stay motivated and not tire out too fast.  There was only one small part of less than 20 feet where I was questioning my choice to hike this trail with the kids.  And thankfully, that spot was at 1.19 miles… so just when you thought, we can’t do this, we had in fact already completed it.  It was breathtaking.  All of the kids commented about how fun it was and how accomplished they felt for accomplishing their first mountain hike.  We lingered at the lake by enjoying a snack of apples and crackers before heading back down the trail.

I highly recommend this hike for those able and willing.  Take your time, enjoy the sites and smells.  Bring water, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes! For directions and more trail information check out Hanging Lake, Colorado.

Happy Hiking!

 

PS – I just discovered their Pinterest page – now I want to go back again 🙂

 

 

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