Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year everyone! As we say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018, hope we all always remember to be thankful and optimistic! It’s been a wonderful year spending such amazing time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to what this new year holds for all of us! As a family we did so many fun excursions. I wanted to share some of my favorite excursions.

As summer started, we spent almost a month in Colorado. I want to share my loves of Colorado first. We hiked local trails at Glenwood Springs, camped and hiked some more at Buena Vista, hiked St. Mary’s Glacier, visited our local favorite spots: Estes Park, Boulder, Downtown Denver, Highlands, and most importantly, enjoyed our time with family!

Glenwood Springs/ Rifle Falls State Park:

The hike itself is a little hidden, as there are campsites before the hike trails even begin. Fortunately, it truly is an amazing and hidden gem. My husband surprised me to this amazing hike for our 7th wedding anniversary. It was well worth the wait! It is said that Rifle Falls is the home of Colorado’s only 80-foot triple waterfall!

 

 

Rifle Falls State Park

5775 Hwy 325

Rifle, CO 81650

Tollfree: 800-678-2267

Local: 970-625-1607

rifle.gap.park@state.co.us

http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/riflefalls

Buena Vista

I lived my whole life in Colorado, and I cannot believe I had not made it Buena Vista. I really enjoyed this place. It is an amazing small town with even more breathtaking hikes and views. The downtown area is so cute and quaint. It’s a street full of delicious food trucks from burgers to Mexican yumminess. We stopped at Louie’s Ice Cream Shoppe. We got there right on time, because minutes later the line was out the door! It’s a cozy ice shop with lots of kid-friendly outdoor games. I think we spent a good hour just hanging out.

 

Louie’s Ice Cream Shoppe

Phone: (773) 450-0803

Website: www.facebook.com/Louies-Ice-Cream-Shoppe

Summer Hours: Open 12-10pm till October

Address: 414 E. Main Street

Buena Vista, CO 81211

IMG_3755

Cottonwood Pass: (Altitude: 12,126 feet) If you are in the area, you have to hike the Continental Divide trail at Cottonwood Pass. It is a great hike for beginners and very much kid friendly till the last part. It is a little ROCKY! It was beautiful to see wildflowers growing next to tundra and snow. Visiting for North Carolina, it was amazing to see snow in July!! I will always be a #Coloradan in heart! We had a blast sitting on the edge of the rocks and just enjoy the amazing views. Our 10 plus family and friends crew took over the trail. The dads and the kids had a blast leading the group.

 

Chalk Creek Campground and RV Park

I really enjoyed our group campsite at Chalk Creek Campground and RV Park. It was such a well organized, clean, and open campground. I really recommend this place, especially for people traveling in a large group. The management was very friendly and helpful. The only con, if I had to say, would be that because we were in the lower level, the full hot shower bathroom was a little far. Thankfully, the bathroom was very clean and truly HOT showers!

 

11430 Co Rd 197

Nathrop, CO 81236

Phone: 719-395-8301

www.chalkcreek-campground.com

St. Mary’s Glacier

IMG_3530Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow in the summertime is amazing! This is an easy to moderate, kid-friendly hike.  The trail is about 1.5 hour round trip (2 miles), but it will require some climbing through boulders. When we reached the end of the trail, it was truly just breathtaking. The snow topped mountains over a large clear lake is just picture perfect. It was also fun to see people snowboarding and sledding down icy snow in the sunny middle of July Colorado weather! There is so much space for kids to run around. It is truly an amazing spot to snack or picnic! I am in love with this place!

Directions: From Denver, take I-70 west about 25 miles past Idaho Springs to Exit #238 (Fall River Rd. or Rd 275). Follow Fall River Rd. for approximately 9 miles until you see the trail to St Mary’s Glacier on your left. The parking area is past the trailhead on the left. You will see cars parked in a big open, dirt lot.

 

Parking: There are parking spaces, but it does get filled quickly. So, plan accordingly. There is a $5 parking fee, which is well worth the scenic beauty. They are very strict about parking on the road!

Day Hike Quick PACK LIST:

  • Cash for Parking
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock/ Chapstick
  • Ankle hiking boots
  • Water/Snacks
  • Bug spray
  • Layers (it can get windy)

There are so many places in Colorado to enjoy, like my parents scenic, untouched mountain-view backyard. These are someplace I enjoy going back anytime of the year.

 

Estes Park: (Going back in history for a little bit). For our first anniversary, we spent the whole day there. We started the day with a horseback-riding excursion, and then strolling down the old-fashioned, classic downtown area, where we finally stopped and ate at a rooftop Mexican restaurant. I wish I knew the name. It was fun then, and I am sure, if it’s still there, anyone can find it, because it was the only rooftop restaurant in the downtown area. After lunch, we hike up to the old cabin ruins for a birds-eye view of the whole town. It is just majestic. Finally, we ended the afternoon with wine tasting at a local winery. I am so bummed that this placed closed few years ago. This place was so charming. We were allowed to take the bottle of wine by the stream. There we spent hours literally watching the hummingbirds flying from one direction to another.

Every time we visit Estes Park, we try to do something new or something old. It’s just a beautiful iconic old town that has a lot of beautiful memories for us. We love revisiting the place all the type, anytime, literally.

Boulder Downtown: I started my life in Boulder. When we were kids, we learned all the bus routes to get to Boulder Downtown, recreation center, parks, etc. So, either we were saving all of our dimes and quarters for a bus ride, or literally, riding our bikes everywhere. Boulder is another place that I can never get enough of. So, whenever we are in town, or time to spare, we are in Boulder Downtown. We take our son everywhere, and when he returns to the same place, it is so cool to see his eyes glow with fond memories of his time there. It is so nice to hear him recall his past memories, from whether it be touching the water fountains, playing at the large boulder park, eating ice cream or just watching the street magicians.

Denver Downtown: 20 plus years ago, when we moved to Denver from Boulder, my parents opened a restaurant and gift shop in Downtown Denver. So, almost every weekend the kids were in the downtown area. We saw the area grow from a scary, “don’t walk alone street,” to a safe and upcoming “16th Street Mall.” We love taking our son on the light rail to Downtown and ride the 16th Street free mall ride bus. Our go to place has been the Union Station. In just a few years, it has become so fun and lively, with amazing food and drinks. It is truly a hotspot to hangout with friends. I love the atmosphere, it feels like the old meets new, and it’s always changing.

IMG_4600

Union Station

 

Address: 1701 Wynkoop St

Denver, CO 80202

Phone: (800) 872-7245

Website: unionstationdenver.com

Denver Highlands: Highlands is an amazing, redeveloped neighborhood. It is truly in the middle of everything. There are three diverse districts to discover here: Highlands Square, Tennyson Street and Lower Highland (LoHi). There are so many boutiques shops, restaurants, breweries, and my favorite, ice cream shops. Everyone needs to go the Little Man Ice Cream Shop and try the toffee ice cream! OMG, it’s yum!

 

Little Man Ice Cream Shop

Address: 2620 16th St.

Denver, CO 80211

Phone: 303-455-3811

Website: http://www.littlemanicecream.com/

Please do check out a video of our visit to Colorado in 2017. Enjoy!

 

 

North Carolina Travels: Hanging Rock

As warmer weather is coming earlier than usually, we decided to hike Hanging Rock this past Sunday. It is about 1.5 hours away from Chapel Hill, NC, but well worth the drive. The State Park offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails for all experience levels.

Once at the top, it was an amazing 360• view of the whole State Park! It was the right amount of warmth and breeze, as we snacked on top of the mountain. The fun hike and views makes me excited for more hikes within North Carolina.

“I love hiking, now let’s go,” said Skyler (my 4 year old) as he takes turn sitting excitedly on the shoulder of my husband and friend. We went down to the waterfalls first. It was an easy quick hike up and down. A fun break for kids and adults alike. I do recommend people to be careful by the water, as it can be slippery and dangerous. Looking up, I was thinking that this hike maybe more difficult than it looks, but I was wrong. It was a fun and moderate hike. We took our time enjoying the good weather and the picturesque views on all the trails. We spent about 3 hours all together at Hanging Rock State Park. I want to go back and do the other trails soon!!

This summer, I hope to travel around North Carolina and the surrounding States. I will be blogging about the excursions as well. Please do check out a glimpse of our hiking trip to Hanging Rock!

Hiking Trails we hiked: (The trails we went on were all kid friendly).

-Hanging Rock, 1.3 Miles (Moderate)

-Window Falls, 0.6 Miles (Easy)

-Hidden Falls, 0.4 Miles (Easy)

Hanging Rock

1790 Hanging Rock Park Road

DanburyNC 27016

Phone 336-593-8480
hanging.rock@ncparks.gov
Latitude: 36.411906
Longitude: -80.254120
*FYI TO ALL NEW NC HIKERS:

There are no entrance fees to enjoy North Carolina state parks, with the following exceptions:

Falls Lake State Recreation AreaJordan Lake State Recreation Area, and Kerr Lake State Recreation Area charge for entry in the summer months, to supplement operational costs and help maintain and improve the areas for visitors. The per-car fee is charged daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, holidays in April, May and September and on weekends.

Bryce Canyon and Zion Mountain Summer Camping Trip

Our 2016 summer camping excursion is finally posted! Please do check out our Bryce Canyon and Zion Mountain Camping Trip.

Day 1: Drove directly to KOA Cannonville Campground. We arrived around 3 P.M. We setup our tent and relaxed.

Day 2: We woke up early in the morning to hike Bryce. Just breathe taking. The Hoodoos were just amazing. All day at the event!

Day 3: We went to Zion Mountain National Park. There are so many trails. If you don’t want to drive, they have a very well organized bus system that takes you close enough to the trails. Sadly, Sky got sick, and we had to return back to our campsite.

Day 4: This was just a tease for us. We have to come back here. I just fell in love with Bryce and didn’t get to hike enough trails. We packed our tent and headed back home to Colorado. We took the most scenic and beautiful drive ever!! We stopped by and hiked some smaller trails on our way home. We also found a hidden coffee shop (Kiva). They built the coffee shop and one bedroom hotel literally on the side of a cliff. Amazing.

**We kind of rushed and will have to return again (someday). Sadly, because of time, weather, and everything else, we were not able to do as many hikes as expected. So, I recommend spending at least couple days per area.

We went camping in the middle of Summer (July). It was crazy hot!! I think September or early fall would have been a better time. The summer heat and heat from the sun hitting the rocks made it unbearably hot by the end of the day. We started the camping trip on a weekday and it wasn’t that busy. As weekend neared, more campers started coming. I prefer a more spacious and less crowded campground, so it worked out well for us. The campground even has small hiking trails. We actually made time to hang out at the pool, which a nice plus! I cannot find one bad thing about this KOA Campground. It was about 20 minutes away from Bryce Canyon and 45 minutes from Zion Mountain. This was our first KOA experience, and well worth it!

This KOA campsite even provided pancake breakfast on Saturday mornings. If you forgot anything, they have a small shop with almost everything you needed, even potatoes and onion. I really liked the community kitchen available for free to use for everyone. The bathroom was exceptionally clean and shower was separate, which was nice. They even had few washer and dryer! It was a perfect family friendly RV, Camper, Cabin, and tent campground. We had a pretty open and large campsite. I don’t know if all tent sites are that large. It was great for us, as we had amazing mountain views. We also had water and electric on site. Price differs accordingly.

Every night was a clear night. We saw so many shooting stars. It was just beautiful. It does get cold in the evening and early morning, which is expected. Besides that, we really enjoyed the trip. It is always nice to take time off and be away from our man-made lifestyle. I think we all need this type of break from our busy lives. Seeing these natural beauty makes me realize how small we really are, and how easily we can take our lives for granted. It is even more special, because my son, who is only three, is the one reminding us of “that time” and asking us when our next camping trip will be. It is that enthusiasm and excitement that makes me more eager to share and enjoy nature with him. All in all, this camping trip has been the most “Awwing”, most amazing, and most scenic yet.

TENT SITES: They have electric/water, just electric or tent site only (no hookups). You will have to call them to get the rates. As a KOA Member you do get 10% off each night at all or most KOA campsites. I think it’s a great deal.

**Also, it seems that their online reservation is not up-to-date with the current availabilities. So it is a better option to just call them.                  

Campground: CANNONVILLE / BRYCE VALLEY KOA

215 N. Red Rock Dr., Cannonville, UT 84718

Open March 15 – October 30

Reserve: 888-562-4710    Info: 435-679-8988

Coffee Shop: KIVA COFFEE HOUSE

Hwy 12, Milemarker 73.86, Escalante, UT 84726

Phone: 435-826-4550

Hours: April- October from 8:30-4:30 Daily (Closed on Tuesdays)

 

Our first camping trip: Moab & Mesa Verde

Atul and I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world together, from different parts of Mexico to Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Nepal. I hope we can continue this trend with our son. Sky has done not so bad for being just a 3 and half year old. He went to Puerto Rico at the age of 3.5 months. Then to Nepal for his first birthday. He has been to Mexico 3 times already. Sky loved it every time.

Atul loves the nature and I love the beach. So whenever we have any free time, you will find us hiking or driving on any closeby scenic mountain routes. Our local excursions means being with the nature. We felt Sky, at the age of 2.5 was a good enough of an age, especially since he also enjoys nature to start camping. As always, he was an awesome trooper!

Please do check out our first camping trip to Moab and Mesa Verde.

Day 1: Drove directly to Moab (hiked as much as we could with the little guy). Around 4 pm we arrived at our campground.

Day 2: Visited Mesa Verde National Park. Hiked on few trails and saw amazing cliff dwellings. All day at the event!

Day 3: We practically spent the whole day driving from one destination to another on the San Juan Loop: Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and back to Mesa Verde. Most scenic and beautiful drive ever!!

Day 4: Packed our tent and headed back home to Colorado. On our way back, we saw a dinosaur park. We had to stop! Great way to end an awesome camping trip.

Campground: Ancient Cedars                                                                                                       

34979 Hwy 160 Frontage Road
Mancos, CO 81328
Cell Phone: 1-970-565-3517
Toll Free Number: 1-844-565-3517

We went camping at the end of camping season (September), so the campsite was pretty empty. I actually like it like that (less crowded). It is the same exit going towards Mesa Verde National Park, except you would make a left turn instead of right to go to the park. It’s a little hidden but close to the highway. They even have small hiking trails within the campground. We didn’t have time to play mini-golf or go to the pool. Pool looked okay. We saw so many shooting stars. It was just beautiful. It does get cold in the evening and early morning, which is expected. Besides that, we really enjoyed the campsite. Our tent site was exceptionally large. I don’t know if all tent sites are that large. It was great for us, as we had amazing mountain views, on the corner, next to a cool looking barn (almost abandon) and the playground. The last night, they even brought us “free” firewood. It was nice gesture.

TENT SITES                    

$20.00/night for one person.
$27.00/night for two people.
$3.50 for each additional person six years and older.
All sites shaded by ancient cedar trees, with fire pits.

**I don’t really agree with the ratings. The husband and wife who own the campsite were very helpful. They had told us that they recently purchased it, so the rating maybe a reflection on the past management. The bathroom area was clean and the campground itself was very well kept.

Dinosaur Park: Moab Giants     

112 West SR-313, Moab, Utah 84532

If you have a dino lover like my son, it is totally worth the visit. It’s actually a thrilling experience for adults as well. The giant dinosaurs amongst the natural desert and the rocky arches as the background makes it look so real. Be ready for the scorching heat!! They have a small museum. It was still being worked on it when we were there.