Colorado July 2011

Dates: July 15 - July 26, 2011

People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia, David, Matt H.


  • 7-15 (Travel Day)
  • 7-16 (Travel Day)
  • 7-17 (Travel Day)
  • 7-18 (Loveland Pass)
  • 7-19 (Chicago Basin Approach)
  • 7-20 (Sunlight/Windom)
  • 7-21 (Eolus)
  • 7-22 (Biking Breck/Frisco/Copper)
  • 7-23 (Mt. Bierstadt)
  • 7-24 (Mt. Royal/Family)
  • 7-25 (Travel Day)
  • 7-26 (Travel Day)


Luke had his last baseball game of the year tonight at 6pm so we decided Sarah and the boys would wait for the game to finish and then make the run to Chicago. Of course the game ran late, though Luke played well, and we didn't get them out of town until about 8:15pm. We also made the mistake of leaving our IPASS in the van which was in the transmission shop so Sarah and the boys had to take the longer non-toll route.

They made the long drive though. Sarah arrived with the 3 boys a little after midnight. The boys woke up and wanted to play a little bit. Jonah slept with Sarah, Luke slept with Denny, and Mom slept with Seth in the little bedroom.

Friday's driving: approximately 287.0 miles


The driving group got up at 5:30 a.m. and left about 6:30 a.m. for Colorado in Marcia’s van. The boys all woke up and were ready to leave on our trip. Denny drove while the rest napped. Near the Illinois/Iowa line we stopped for gas with a McDonald’s and we got some breakfast. The kids enjoyed pancakes and yogurt. Then we were back on our way through Iowa and Nebraska. It was very hot outside so we enjoyed our cool air conditioning. The kids watched a lot of videos on the car computer. We stopped in Council Bluffs at Golden Corral for lunch. Everyone was very hungry and ready for some good food and lots of desserts. They even had Gummy Bears which the boys enjoyed. After lunch Sarah and Marcia walked a couple of blocks to Walmart to get more Pull-ups and batteries for the headphones. Denny wanted to listen to the radio and had the kids use the headphones for the TV. Denny and the boys picked them up and were on their way in Nebraska. Sarah took over the wheel this time. We drove across Nebraska. We made an ice cream stop at Dairy Queen around 4:00 p.m. Then we continued on to North Platte and stopped at a Quality Inn with an indoor pool. We got the boys ready to go in the pool. Luke quickly learned to swim the length of the pool. Then he jumped into the deep water over his head and swam to the side. He was thrilled that he could do that. Jonah also jumped into the water on the shallow end with his water wings. Seth just had fun moving all around the pool. Marcia sat on the side and took pictures. Seth had seen a Pizza Hut beside the motel on our drive in, so after swimming he wanted to go to Pizza Hut. Since it was in walking distance, that is where we went. The three boys ate almost a whole medium pizza (adults had taken out 1 ½ pieces) and even wanted more. We went back to the rooms and went to bed. Luke and Jonah stayed with Sarah and Seth stayed with Denny and Marcia in our King size beds.

Saturday's driving: approximately 726.0 miles


Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia

The car group ate a hot breakfast at the motel and then were on their way to Colorado. They stopped at a Colorado Visitor Center and picked up a lot of literature and gave the kids time to run around. They made a noon stop at Wendy’s for lunch. They arrived in Denver with extra time before we could check into our condomium in Frisco so we made a stop at REI. On the way out of Denver they saw lots of traffic both ways, but especially for those coming into Denver. Instead of going through the Tunnel, they went over Loveland Pass. They got out at the pass to take a walk, but it started raining and they all got wet before they could get back to the car. They arrived in Frisco just about 4:00 p.m. which was our check-in time at the condo. They unloaded the car and got things put away. Denny took the boys for a walk to the park and Sarah and Marcia went grocery shopping to Walmart and Safeway. Denny cooked chicken on the grill.

Sunday's driving: approximately 331.0 miles

Mark, David, Matt H.

The car group stayed in North Platte, Nebraska last night. They had left home early Saturday morning and had a good full day of driving which even allowed them to stop at a nice time Saturday night. They spent the evening swimming at the hotel with the boys. I stuck around home to work Sunday morning and fly out Sunday afternoon.

I was fortunate to have the early part of Sunday afternoon to get the house in order and asked our neighbor to watch over the pool while we were gone. The president of our congregation was kind enough to offer me a ride to the airport so we left the house around 3:30pm and had a nice drive up to the airport. I got in there plenty early with good time to walk around and find supper. It was also the day of the Women’s World Cup final between Japan and the USA which a good number of people were watching in the airport. I hovered around a TV long enough to see the back and forth battle lead into penalty shots where sadly the USA was defeated.

My flight left on time and was a great flight out to Denver. As we arrived at Denver and I found out we were about 25 minutes early I was also pleased to learn that both David and Matt were also early. My flight still arrived about 15 minutes before the others so I had time to head down the concourse to find the other two as they deplaned. It appeared as though Matt’s flight would be first so I tracked him down as he got off the plane and we went to find David. He ended up beating us off and was already on the train to the terminal. We caught up to him around baggage claim and all waited for their bags together.

We rode the Hertz shuttle out to the rental area and the pickup of the car went smoothly. They gave David a military upgrade to a Chevy Impala which would serve us well for the week. We headed out from the airport, thought about stopping for food, but ended up making a straight bee-line for Frisco. We arrived to Frisco just after 11pm and did finally hit up the Taco Bell for a quick snack. We arrived at the condo shortly thereafter.

Sunday's driving: approximately 91.0 miles


Woke up at 7:30am this morning surprisingly. After the late night last night I was hoping for more sleep, but alas, I think my body must have thought it was 9:30a Michigan time. Two of the 3 boys were already up and just Seth remained in bed.

Spent the first hour and a half of the day unloading all my backpacks to get gear sorted out for the dayhiking. Sarah commented it looked like an REI store had just exploded all over our bed. We got breakfast together and helped the boys pack up their gear for the hike at Loveland Pass. The goal was to be on the road by 9am and we made it only about 15 minutes late.

Our hiking at Loveland Pass of Point 12915, Cupid and Mt. Sniktau is on my hiking blog.

We had a great lunch at the Pass. Made sandwiches out of the back of the van and sat around and took in the views. The weather held wonderfully for us. As we finished lunch we decided to explore with the boys on the other side of the road and realize there was a great amount of snow. The snow near the trail which headed through the area had melted out leaving a wall of snow almost 15 feet high. There was also a great slope of snow with a nice flat run-out so I grabbed my new ice axe and microspikes and decided to try them out. I climbed about 75 feet up the slope and had a nice glissade down with the boys watching. They enjoyed it. David also gave it a try using my gear and enjoyed it. The boys were intrigued by playing with the ice axe a bit in the snow.

Monday's Loveland Pass driving: 42 miles

After our fun we finally made our way from Loveland Pass back to Frisco. We were back to the condo around 2:30pm to give us a chance to start readying for our car-ride for the evening. The guys made a quick trip over to Safeway to get last minute essentials for the Chicago Basin hike. We had a taco dinner just after 5pm and it allowed us to get on the road to Durango just after 6pm. With 4 guys and 4 full-size packs we filled up our little car pretty quickly.

We were hoping to get some views of the Sangres as we drove through the San Luis Valley towards Durango but the skies were darkening as we got down there. We saw the northern end of the Sangres but never got a good view of the Crestones. Once on 160 we saw our fair share of deer. We realized, though we’d had a great supper, as the time drew later we were getting quite hungry and thirsty. We did some searching on our phones and realized there was a Sonic in Pagosa Springs so we made sure to hit that. And oh, what a treat! We partook of their wonderful Limeades and some 11pm breakfast food as well. We enjoyed our treats at one of their outside benches for 15 minutes with a beautiful night sky above us.

We arrived in Durango at what seemed like nearly midnight and had to stop in at the neighboring Ramada Inn to check-in to our Travelodge. We were expecting the worst from that cheap hotel but were pleased to find our room was well enough for our short 7 hour stay.

The Frisco group spent the evening at the condo. Marcia made two strawberries pies for them to enjoy for dessert. The boys spent the evening colors and putting stickers on paper. They then played a couple of games of UNO and UNO dominoes with Sarah and Marcia.

Monday's drive to Durango: 283 miles


Mark, David, Denny, Matt H.

Our entire Tuesday was spent riding the Durango-Silverton Train into Chicago Basin and then hiking up into Chicago Basin. This can all be found on my hiking blog.

Sarah, Marcia, Luke, Jonah, Seth

They left the condo and went to Woodland Park, CO, about 2 ½ hours south and east of Frisco. They arrived around noon and stopped at Taco Bell for lunch. When they were ready to leave, they couldn’t get the left sliding door to close. So Sarah held the door and they drove to a car repair shop in town. The mechanic there was nice enough to figure out that the door was locked and so was not able to close. He didn’t charge us anything!

They were only a couple of blocks from the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. There were lots of fossils and/or casts of dinosaurs. In the children’s area there was a dig site/prep table, magnetic create-a-dinosaur activity, and videos. Sarah and Luke listened to a guide while Jonah spent most of his time doing dinosaur rubbings. Seth went from one thing to another – no stopping to him. They were glad the boys couldn’t read yet as there was a lot of evolution taught and no creation. They drove back to Frisco and got some supper at Kentucky Fried Chicken before going back to the Condo.

Tuesday's drive to Woodland Park: 191 miles roundtrip


Mark, David, Denny, Matt H.

We spent Wednesday hiking Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak. You can read about these hikes on my hiking blog

Sarah, Marcia, Luke, Jonah, Seth

They got up early and left the condo by 7:30 a.m. They headed for the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver which opened at 9:00 a.m. They would have made it by then, but got caught in traffic because of an accident. Aunt Joyce met them at the Pavilion. In the first room was “Rosie” a Chilean Rose Hair tarantula which you could hold. None of them volunteered to hold it except Joyce. The boys got to touch a sea star and sea urchin. Then they entered the Conservatory with 1,200 butterflies flying around. They got lots of pictures. Seth just shooed them away. Then there was a play area with a zip line and other activities to do. They were there until about 11:30 a.m. and then went to McDonald’s for lunch. They just so happened to have Star Wars lightsabers in their kids meals, so the boys were thrilled. They then went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Joyce also joined them there. Sarah took Luke to a special exhibit on “Real Pirates”. Joyce, Marcia, and the boys went in the Edge of the Wild and Bears & Sea Mammals exhibits. Seth found 2 phones to listen to information and he was happy. He pretended he was talking to “Mom”. He didn’t want to leave. Sarah also took Luke through the Egyptian Mummies exhibit. Joyce had to leave them to get home to do some work. They found the Kids Discovery Zone and the boys were occupied for a long time. Sarah took Luke through the Health exhibit. There was a kid’s play area in Health so Marcia took Jonah and Seth there and they played a long time. They left the Museum about 4:30 p.m. and then went over to Casa Bonita, a Mexican Restaurant, to eat some supper. They got there a little after 5:00 p.m. They placed their order and were seated near the cliff divers. They got to see several cliff diver shows. After eating the boys got tokens to play some games in the Arcade. They left there about 8:00 p.m. and arrived back at the cabin at 9:30 p.m. The doorbell of the condo kept going off intermittenly. They checked the door and no one was there. After they went to bed, we didn’t hear it and never was bothered with it again.

Wednesday's drive to Denver: 155 miles roundtrip


Mark, David, Denny, Matt H.

We spent Thursday morning on the Mt. Eolus and North Eolus Peak hike (see it on my hiking blog). After that ascent we packed up camp and hiked out to Needleton and rode the train again to Durango (see it on the Chicago Basin hike page).

After reaching Durango on the train we packed our gear up the car and headed out of town. We decided after 4 solid days of hiking that it was best not to attempt Mt. Sneffels tomorrow. You could even argue we missed everyone else back at the condo in Frisco. We thought Sonic in Poncha Springs sounded good again so we headed there arriving just after 8pm for supper. We ordered a lot of food to fill up us 4 hungry guys. The cherry limeades tasted like heaven.

The rest of the drive back to Frisco was an exercise in dodging deer and staying awake. Dad/Denny did all the driving while the rest of us were dozing off. It was plenty past midnight again when we arrived in Frisco and hit those nice warm beds.

Thursday's drive to Frisco: 283 miles

Sarah, Marcia, Luke, Jonah, Seth

they slept in and enjoyed some free time at the cabin. They took the kids to the park to play. They got some lunch and then took the boys to the Skyline Cinema in Dillon to see “Winnie the Pooh” movie. Luke and Jonah sat very still and watched the movie. Seth was fine for a while, but got couldn’t sit any longer. Since they were the only ones in the theater, they just let him walk around quietly and that is what he did. After the movie we heard that the guys are coming back tonight instead of tomorrow night. Marcia went to the grocery while Sarah and the boys stayed back at the condo. We made supper and the boys drew Star Wars canons and characters, colored them, and then played with them.


The younger boys woke up this morning surprised to find that the other guys were back from hiking already. We all spent much of the morning unsure of what we wanted to do for the day. Tossed around thoughts of Grizzly Peak at Loveland Pass, North Star Mountain and even Mt. Royal and possibly Peak 1 from Frisco. Mom’s cousin Linda Kissel and her daughter Nicole arrived about 9:30am to visit for the day. Nicole brougth a small dog along she was babysitting for so the boys enjoying keeping the dog company. About 10:30am we walked into Frisco to check out Rebel Sports and the bike rentals again. This looked like a viable option and they also had kid carriers so we could include the boys. We decided to head back to the condo, eat a quick lunch and then to go for it. The guys had a quick lunch of whatever we could put together.

You can read about our bike hike on my hiking blog.

While the guys were away biking Sarah made a very nice stir-fry for the rest of the group who stayed behind. Linda and Nicole stuck around til 1:30pm and then took off for home. After they'd left Marcia took a nice walk to downtown Frisco and also got some grocery shopping done, which was a constant thing for us this week. The guys came back and need the ride up to Copper and Marcia arrived back with the van just in time to take them.

The guys arrived back and had the bikes returned before 6pm and Sarah was kind enough to cook everyone another great stir-fry supper for all the hungry hikers. She even specialized the plates for everyone's desires out of the veggies and ingredients available. We spent the evening getting ready for the hike on Bierstadt with Luke in the morning.


Mark, Luke, Denny, David, and Matt H. all quite early to head to Guanella Pass to hike Mt. Bierstadt.

You can read the Bierstadt trek on my hiking blog.

The guys left Guanella Pass and the Bierstadt hike around 1:15p. We thought about trying to make it to Dillon by 2p for their Pizza Hut buffet but decided we wouldn’t be able to make it time-wise (a wise decision!). Decided on Qdoba in Silverthorne instead. Ended up getting caught in westbound traffic on I-70. A truck fire in the tunnel coupled with at least two other accidents had us sitting still for nearly an hour. Ended up being close to 3p when we finally got to Qdoba. They are a lot like Salsarita’s. Learned the ladies +Jonah +Seth were on their way back from Denver and Tiny Town at this time. We arrived at the condo about 20 minutes before them. Sat outside for about 10 minutes before we realized we could use the lock-box key to get in.

Sarah and Marcia didn’t have anything planned when they got up, but decided they needed to take Jonah and Seth somewhere. They took the boys to Tiny Town which is just southwest of Denver. It is a kid sized village and railroad. Its residential area has a charming assortment of small houses and mansions, several churches, schools, fire station, movie station, gas station, etc. Some buildings let the kids crawl inside and view the town through tiny windows. There was also a playground. We ate lunch there and then rode the Tiny Town train on an enchanting loop around the town. We went back to the condo to find that the guys were back from their hike already. We ordered pizza for supper. David took Marcia grocery shopping.

Saturday's drive to Guanella Pass: 77 miles roundtrip


We woke up and made preparations to do a family hike on Mt. Royal today.

You can read about the Mt. Royal hike on my blog.

After the Mt. Royal hike, we tried to clean out the refrigerator for lunch. Matt and David had to leave about 12:20 p.m. to get back to the Denver Aiport for their flights back home. Bob, Joyce, Sara, Rachel & Ryan arrived around 1:30 p.m. for a visit. We visited for awhile before Rachel & Ryan took a walk to downtown Frisco and Walmart. Denny, Bob, Mark, David, Joyce, and Sara took the kids to the park. Sara took pictures of the boys. Seth didn’t want to stay very long so Marcia brought him back. We made a hamburger, potato, vegetable, fresh fruit supper with an Oreo pudding pie for dessert. Ryan and Rachel left for home after supper and Bob, Joyce and Sara left for home shortly after. We starting cleaning up the condo and then packed up the car after the boys were in bed. Mark and Sarah stayed up late getting the last bits of laundry done.


We were up at 6am this morning to finish packing and prepping the condo to leave. There was enough time to eat up some breakfast and finish off some of the remaining food. We were on the road for home about 7:30am.

Dad drove the first leg from Frisco to Ogallala, NE where we stopped for lunch at Pizza Hut for lunch buffet. Most of us got some napping in during this time. We arrived at the lunch buffet just as they were opening it and enjoyed the selections of pizza. They even had strawberries on the salad portion.

Mom drove the next leg to a travel center in Elm Creek, NE where we stopped for a gas fill-up and some ice cream. The younger two had push-ups and took forever to polish them off. Seth wouldn’t take bites off his but rather would just continually lick on it. It was about 95 degrees there.

Mark drove the third leg and was on til a rest area stop about 18 miles west of Lincoln. The boys had a chance here to get out and run awhile and climb on a big rock they had there.

Dad was back on for the fourth leg and drove us to around 6:45pm when we made our supper stop in Council Bluffs, IA for Golden Corral. We loaded up on all sorts of different kinds of food. The boys enjoyed all the tasty desserts. There we made reservations for the Quality Inn in Newton, IA and figured we could make it there at a decent time.

After an hour at supper we hit the road again with Dad driving. Around 9:20p hit a rest area west of Des Moines for a pull-up change and a break. We arrived in Newton at 10:30pm at the Quality Inn. They were good enough to give us nice adjoining rooms. Seth was fully charged with energy for awhile. Jonah was out like a light right away.

Tuesday's Driving: 773 miles


We were up at 6:30am this morning in Newton to get ready for the long drive and hit breakfast at that nice Quality Inn just after 7am. It was a good breakfast they had and it got us on the road by 8am. Dad drove til a rest area west of the Quad Cities and then Mark took over. Mark drove us the rest of the way home. We hit Buona Beef for lunch before finally arriving at the house around 1:30p

We spent til 3p at the house re-packing, letting the boys play, and transferring photos from the trip. We left the house around 3:30p and went through downtown Chicago. Hit pockets of traffic on I-290 just past Mannheim and on the southern Dan Ryan. We had to go this route as our I-PASS was stuck in our van which was at the transmission shop. So we had to follow the only toll-free route through Chicago. At least it was scenic! We followed I-94 into Michigan and stopped at the McDonalds in Paw Paw which conveniently also had a playplace. We let the boys play for about 20 minutes while we ate and then let them eat their food in the car; conveniently, they still had Star Wars Clone Wars toys.

We arrived home at around 10:30pm to cap off a very long 2 days of driving.

Tuesday's Driving: 583 miles

The End.