In the blink of an eye it was our last day in Colorado, so we took it kind of slow. The kids got up and ate and played and then we decided to go to the zoo.
As much as I’m always torn when it comes to zoos (I love seeing the animals, but hate seeing them in cages), it’s always a good way to get out, and the Colorado Springs zoo is a really nice zoo. Plus, it was cooler and clouds were coming in, so it was fantastic weather to be outside in. We fed giraffes, the kiddos got to pet a baby wallaby, and my niece Aubrey was the Dr. Dolittle of the group – one of the adult wallabies let her get close enough to pet it and a chipmunk as well (though I didn’t get photos). It’s a great zoo for walking as a work out, though, pack lightly as strollers and wagons can get heavy fast with all the hills.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to home base so Josh could get a nap in before his first shift of driving. We had some sad good-byes, but I see many more road trips in our future, and maybe we can get some visitors out our way as well. *Hint hint* The drive home was longer than the way there. The kids didn’t sleep quite as soundly and both Josh and I were a lot more tired than the first time around. We made a lot more stops on the way back and didn’t get home until late afternoon by which time we were all relieved to get out of the car. Schedules and routines were off for us all, but within a couple of weeks I think things were mostly back to normal. Traveling does indeed get easier as the kids get older! Hooray!
We had a couple of days set aside before it was time to make the long trek home, and it was nice to just relax and let the kiddos run around and play. There was some napping and quiet time mixed in as well, which was pretty nice too. I was even able to get a little reading in, which rarely happens during the day, and hardly ever on vacation.
We did end up getting out (because kids get stir-crazy) and went to an indoor bouncy house place. It was thankfully not very busy when we arrived and the kids had a lot of fun. It was also nice to see Enzo overcome his fear of the tall slide after watching his cousins. Needless to say, he thought it was awesome once he gave it a try.
The kids got some more much needed outside time that afternoon. It was still warm, but not uncomfortably so. Knowing we’d be headed out the next evening, it was nice to have a lazy day watching the cousins play together as it doesn’t get to happen often. Two years is a long time to go between visits, but even more so when you realize just how quickly kids change in that amount of time.
We got on the road a bit later than my sister and brother-in-law on Monday morning, but still managed to get out the door before 10:00. Josh and the kids got to experience sheep-herding on the road for the first time and we could tell that the kids were a tad tired. Naps had been thrown off as well as bedtimes, but both kids were still holding up fairly well. We made a few more stops than usual and as we got nearer to the halfway point we saw signs for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and remembered what a friend (Thanks, Jeff!) had said. It wasn’t too far out of our way and we would need a place to stop anyway, so off we went!
In retrospect, I really wish we had planned a bit better and made more time to hang out at the park. Because we arrived during the time our kiddos would normally be napping they weren’t super thrilled to get out of the car (it was also in the 90s that day). Once I told Enzo the sand dunes were like a giant sand box, though, he perked up. We didn’t quite realize we’d have to cross a stream, which was thankfully not at all deep, but both kids take a while to warm up to water and had zero desire to dip their toes in. It was the perfect temperature and felt amazing. I was kind of jealous of everyone just hanging out in their swimsuits. We are absolutely camping here the next time we road trip to Colorado!
We also stopped at the visitor’s center on our way out, and though it isn’t big it has a big bathroom, air conditioning, and a great view of the dunes. There was a really big tour group at the time, but they were all extremely nice and thought our kids were adorable, so it was hard not to like them. 😉
Alas, time to get back on the road, let the kiddos take a much needed nap, and arrive back in Colorado Springs at a reasonable hour.
Surprisingly, when it came time to get back into the van the next day and drive another 6 hours, the kids were fairly cooperative. They settled in for the drive and we didn’t even have to make that many stops… granted when you’ve got two cars and four kids, rarely will everyone have to use the bathroom at the same time. Ha ha!
I didn’t take nearly enough photos overall in Durango, but it was so nice to see family and friends and to actually hang out with everyone at one time. We stayed in a hotel the first two nights, but it was right downtown so we were able to walk around with the kids a bit since they do NOT like being cooped up for too long.
When we discussed driving to Colorado from Minnesota, we were both a little nervous about how such a long drive would go. Heck, vacation in general can just throw off small children, and ours are very used to routines and in some ways, rely on that routine. We both knew that there was a high risk of no one getting enough sleep and potentially grumpy kiddos, but when all is said and done? The trip went so much better than we could have hoped.
We left on a Wednesday night after dinner and after giving the kids baths and dressing them in comfy clothes, so around 7:00pm or so. As expected, both kids were excited about the change in routine and we let Enzo watch a movie. The one downside to having the sun set so late, however, is that while Phoebe had no trouble falling asleep at a reasonable hour, Enzo was up until the sun went down. After that, though… they were pretty much out until the next morning. Phoebe woke up briefly at around 4:30, and Enzo not too long after, but both took mid-morning naps. We stopped once it was light out so we could grab some breakfast and let the kids stretch, but Enzo wanted to keep on going and didn’t want to stop at a restaurant, so on we went! We made one or two more brief stops (the kids are unsurprisingly big fans of gas station junk food and Phoebe stole my Fritos when I foolishly forgot to keep an iron grip on them), but ultimately arrived in Colorado Springs at a decent time and despite some shyness, both munchkins warmed up fairly quickly to their cousins, especially after a nice long nap.
Thursday morning we did make the decision to flip Phoebe’s car seat around so she could watch a movie with Enzo. It was easier and she was much less fussy. I realize that it isn’t as safe to ride forward facing, but she is on the larger side, and there were fewer distractions coming from the back seat. Fewer distractions for the driver means we’re a lot less likely to get into an accident.
On that note, here area few cell phone pictures from the drive until I have time to finish going through all of the other photos from our trip.