Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part Three}

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part Three}

Monday, September 27, 2021

Breckenridge

The sunrise was beautiful again today! Clear skies and the sun just peeking over the mountains while I sipped my coffee in silence. Always makes for a great start to the day!

Originally, we didn’t want to hike today but the weather is forecasting rain tomorrow and Wednesday, so we opted for a much shorter and easier hike on the B&B Mile Trail in Breckenridge. It was stunning! I don’t think I will ever get enough of the fall colors – the yellow was just so bright and breathtaking. I’m certain I have over a thousand pictures of yellow trees on my phone 😉 

After our hike we went back to town and grabbed lunch from Kenosha Breck then walked around town a bit. We stopped at The Crown to grab a coffee and I got the chai latte with oat milk – y’all – this was the best chai I have ever had!! We will be back before we leave! We took the kids to Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory and they each got to pick a few candies. After perusing stores for a bit, we headed back to our VRBO for dinner. While we waited for Stephen to go to the grocery store, we played in the falling leaves in the yard <3

As Stephen headed to the grocery store, he noticed there was a fire on the mountain and sure enough – the Ptarmigan Fire burned over 80 acres and many of the homeowners had to evacuate. We could see the smoke from our house, and it just broke my heart to think about all the trees and wildlife that were affected by the fire – not to mention all the homeowners who were probably very nervous that the fire was going to get to their homes, but thankfully it didn’t. We all watched as a helicopter loaded up with water from the Dillion Reservoir and dumped it on the mountainside. Sadly, the fire did not extinguish and kept burning for many days after. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Vail

Back to Vail today!

The smoke from the fire + all the dust just caused some serious allergies so instead of hiking today – much to our kid’s dismay – we headed back to Vail to shop and eat. The boys played on the pirate ship, then we got lunch at Big Bear Bistro, grabbed coffee at Two Arrows Coffee & Bar (I got their maple cinnamon latte with honey instead of maple syrup and oat milk and it was divine!) and then headed back to the pirate ship for a little bit more playtime for the boys.

We left and headed to the gardens where we were able to walk around for a short while until the rain started down on us. As we were driving back, we noticed a bit of “dust” being washed on the highway – but it was white and us Texans didn’t know what it was. It didn’t seem like it could be snow…but as we drove a bit further, we saw snow accumulating on the side of the road – it was snowing! The mountaintops had already gathered a bit of snow and it was so magical! To see the change before our eyes in just one day was so surreal and beautiful! From dry and dusty to snowcapped – it was just so pretty!

Only one part left to share! Tune in next week for Part Four and the finale of our Colorado vacation!

If you missed if, here is Part One and Part Two:

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part One}

We just got back from a fall-licious vacation in Colorado and of course I had to document our time so I can look back – this is more of a “diary” with photos so I can…

Keep reading

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part Two}

Saturday, September 25, 2021 Frisco and Dillion Today was a beautiful day in Colorado! I woke at 5:30 (still adjusting from TX time), looked out the window and saw a bear in the clearing! He was…

Keep reading

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part Two}

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part Two}

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Frisco and Dillion

Today was a beautiful day in Colorado! I woke at 5:30 (still adjusting from TX time), looked out the window and saw a bear in the clearing! He was a big guy and our VRBO owners sent us a video of him walking past the house on their motion detector cameras. He is bulking up for winter!

We left our VRBO just after 8am and got to our hiking spot at just the right time to grab the last parking spot at the North Tenmile Creek Trailhead. It was a stunning hike, full of beautiful aspens and pines. We hiked two miles in and two miles out, with frequent breaks and stopped for a bit for lunch on our way back. 

After our hike we went back to the VRBO to grab fishing poles and rest for a moment then we headed to Frisco Bay Marina on the Dillion Reservoir. We attempted fishing off the dock but that was a bust, so we loaded up and went to another spot on the other side of the lake. But before that, we stopped and did the quick, but dusty, Sapphire Point Overlook and had a snack, then went to Dillion Bay and tried fishing there – but again, no luck – so we went back home and had dinner and went to bed! 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Vail

We got a slightly later start to the day but still got out on the trail at a decent time. At 9:30 we started our long and strenuous uphill hike on Bighorn Creek Trail. We hiked for about 2.5 hours before we turned around at a nice clearing and view of the mountain tops.

It took us 2.5 hours to go just over 2 miles – we had to take frequent breaks to let the little one’s rest and recharge. In fact, one woman who snapped this picture (below) for us left an hour after we did and got to the same spot we were at – so if you go sans kids, you will make better time than we did! 😉 

We recharged and hiked back down much faster and got back to our car at 1pm.

There we changed shoes and clothes and headed to downtown Vail for lunch and coffee! The boys got a huge pizza at Blue Moose Pizza and I had a salad then I grabbed a coffee from Yeti’s Grind. The kind barista helped craft a drink for me – a oat milk latte with a shot of espresso and a little turmeric. It was delicious! I just wished I had communicated that I wanted it hot, and she just assumed I wanted it over ice – I like my coffee hot vs iced – but either way it was still delicious and a nice boost for the afternoon.

Our drive back to our VRBO in Silverthorne was beautiful – passing all the gorgeous yellow aspens along the mountains. Today was tiring in the most wonderful way!

Read Part One of our Colorado adventures here and don’t forget to subscribe below!

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part One}

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part One}

We just got back from a fall-licious vacation in Colorado and of course I had to document our time so I can look back – this is more of a “diary” with photos so I can remember where we went and what we did.

If you are planning a vacation to Colorado, I hope this series helps you as well! We drove ALL day Thursday, September 23rd – left our home in Texas around 4:45am and got to Silverthorne, Colorado (with the time change) around 5:30/6pm. We did stop at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to stretch our legs for a bit, then got back in and drove it out! 😉

Friday, September 24, 2021

Breckenridge

Today we went to Breckenridge after a nice leisurely morning of coffee and breakfast in our VRBO in Silverthorne. Once in town, we luckily found an available parking spot (there were only three spots available, and we got the last one) and started on our hike on Sawmill Trail at the Snowflake trailhead. The hike was a nice, easy hike that helped us to get acclimated to the elevation. We then took the reservoir turn off and had a snack at the water’s edge. 

There were two brothers on the dock fishing, and I was watching them fish. Then I heard one of them yell, “what the?” and then saw the big brother looking at the younger brothers face and heard some crying. I had a sinking feeling and just knew that a hook got the boy in the face…I yelled out, “Are y’all ok?” and the oldest brother yelled back that he needed help. I could hear the panic in his voice, and I grabbed our stuff and we all rushed to them. Once there, I saw it – the younger boy had a treble fishing hook in his cheek. The oldest went to cast and hooked his brother instead.

If you are squeamish to things like these…scroll down…otherwise this is what happened:

Thankfully Stephen had some pliers in the car so he ran back to the car to get them. While he was gone, I helped the boy back to a bench and he laid down. I tried my best to keep them calm and prayed over them. Then I asked the oldest boy (they were 15 and 12 years) if he had called his mom yet, to which he said no. I grabbed my phone and called her, left a message, and then the oldest son called her office. She immediately came and was so grateful that we were there to help. Fortunately, Stephen came back just before she arrived and clipped the barb and slid the hook out and put some antibiotic cream on it. She was so sweet and so gracious, and the boys were just so shaken up. Thankfully both boys are ok! I am just so glad that God placed us there at that time so we could help them out because I don’t know what they would’ve done.

After that adventure, we headed back to the car and drove to check out the Trollstigen Trail – a very short trail that takes you to a big wooden troll sitting in the forest.

We snapped a few pictures then decided to walk the Illinois Creek Trail.

I just love the fall trees!!

We checked out the little train playground that was close by and then headed to Cool River Coffee House for lunch and coffee. Since we had a bit of time left on our parking spot, we decided to walk around downtown Breck for a bit and stopped at Mountain Top Ice Cream where the boys got a sweet treat.

We noticed a few people in lederhosen’s so we followed them to the Blue River Lawn for the annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest. We walked around for a bit and then headed back to the car.

Our next stop was also eventful! I mean, the hook wasn’t enough…

After sitting in the car for a bit trying to decide what to do next, we decided to drive to the local gold mining attraction and see if we could just walk up and be able to pan…and thankfully no one was there and we were able to pan all by ourselves! After learning a bit from the guide, we all had our chance at panning for gold. And I can happily report that ALL boys, including Stephen, found some gold! We walked over to a little creek where we could pan some more, and after about 10 minutes, Clark was standing on the small little bridge, took a step back and fell right in the freezing cold water! Thank goodness he was ok and didn’t hit his head on a rock and was just scared and cold. We pulled off his shirt and I gave him my sweater then we took him to the car and used a blanket that we had to dry him off and wrap him up in the car seat and I had packed an additional shirt that he put on. 

Well, all that adventure in just one day!

After the dip at the Lomax Gulch, we headed back to our VRBO, showered, grilled burgers and relaxed.  All in all, it was an adventurous day in Breck…one that we won’t soon forget! 

Our VRBO was in the best location and the owners were so sweet! They gave our boys a stuffed animal to remember their stay and the house was clean and nice!
The aspens around our house were just stunning!! By the time we left, this front right yellow tree was almost completely orange!

See you back here tomorrow for my conversation with Jenn Smith! This is a podcast episode you don’t want to miss! And Part Two of our Colorado adventures will post later this week so make sure you are subscribed to the blog so you don’t miss it!

Have a blessed and beautiful Monday friends!

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 4 (Days 7 & 8)

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 4 (Days 7 & 8)

Day 7: Middle Prong Trail; The Sinks

Just two months behind in posting…that’s totally normal, right?!

Haha! Sorry that I have completely fallen off the blogging wagon BUT I am slowly getting back into it again…but I have to start where I left off and post our FINAL full day in Tennessee. Looking back at these pictures, I miss Tennessee so, so much! It was by far my favorite place.

On this last full day, we hit up the Middle Prong Trail, which wasn’t too far from our cabin. This was our longest hike that we did and spent all day on the trail. We even almost made it to the Appalachian Trail! 😉 We debated continuing but we also didn’t want to completely wear out the kids because we had to turn around and hike back 😉 We hiked three miles in and three miles out. And the kids made it without much complaining! They were excellent sports and enjoyed the hike as much as we did.

I mean, how could you NOT love this place?!?
I just looks like a fairytale!

After our long hike, we stopped at Wild Bear Tavern for and early dinner and then walked briefly around The Sinks and checked it out. The kids got in for a chilly minute and then we dried off and headed back to the cabin to pack.

Staring contests with sunglasses is not fair! 😉

We will miss our cabin in the mountains!

Day 8: Travel Day

Not much exciting today! We woke up at 5:30am, packed the last few things and ate breakfast, and was on the road home at 6:45am (Tennessee time). We didn’t stop anywhere “fun” on the way home but did stretch our legs and made the boys do a few “races” at our stop at ‘Interstate 40 Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center.’

Thank you, Tennessee, for a wonderful time! We WILL be back!

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 3 (Days 5 & 6)

Day 5: Tail of the Dragon; Fontana Dam; Tom Branch Falls Wednesday, September 30, 2020 This, by far, was one of my favorite days! We spent over four hours in the car but it was so much fun! It was one of those drive, stop and see, drive, stop and see kind of days. We […]

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 2 (Days 3 & 4)

Day 3: Grotto Falls; Place of a Thousand Drips; Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster Monday, September 28, 2020 Another gorgeous morning in the mountains! Seriously the BEST VRBO we have stayed in! We decided to hike Grotto Falls and it was a much easier hike than the previous day (to see Part 1 of my recap, […]

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 1 (Days 1 & 2)

I should forward this with a note that this was a trip…not a vacation…because let’s be real…if the kids are going, it’s a trip! 😉 Haha! We were told that from a friend a few years ago and it always stuck with us because it is so true!! You can’t fully relax with kids in […]

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 3 (Days 5 & 6)

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 3 (Days 5 & 6)

Day 5: Tail of the Dragon; Fontana Dam; Tom Branch Falls

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

This, by far, was one of my favorite days! We spent over four hours in the car but it was so much fun! It was one of those drive, stop and see, drive, stop and see kind of days. We drove all the way to the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains, starting with a drive on the Tail of the Dragon! Y’all. It is no joke! There are 318 curves in 11 miles and it is known as America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road.

After the suspenseful Tail of the Dragon ride, we stumbled upon this gorgeous lake!

We are lake people so finding this beautiful lake was so perfect! The water was insanely clear (nothing like our muddy Lewisville Lake!) and my husband was so tempted to get in! Just needed our boat! 😉

After staring at the lake for way too long, we headed to the Fontana Dam in North Carolina.

We even saw a bald eagle flying over us! It was so cool!

After visiting the dam, it was time for lunch so we stopped in Bryson City at a little sandwich shop and we had a picnic lunch on the hay bails!

Of course we had to do some hiking! And it was quite the adventure to get to the hiking spot!! Somehow our phone map took us on the most random, out-of-the-way rode to get to Tom Branch Falls. We had to back up on one road and turn around, and then it lead us alllllll around the side and to the back of the park entrance. It was nuts! When we drove out, it was so easy and we were right back where we started when we grabbed lunch…in like 5 minutes (when it took us 30 to get there!). It was humorous to say the least! 😉

But Tom Branch Falls was worth the crazy drive! We LOVED the trail and there were so many falls. It was so pretty and the perfect ending of our long road-trip day!

As we were driving back to our VRBO, we found a bunch of ELK! It was so cool to see and hear them!

Not the best picture…I zoomed in while we were driving 😉

Our North Carolina drive was perfect! We love drives like this…where you drive a bit, stop and see things, drive some more, stop and see…so much fun!

And somehow we managed to get back to our VRBO just in time to see the sunset!

Day 6: Hillbilly Golf; Adventure Raceway; Metcalf Bottoms

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Another day, another gorgeous sunrise in Tennessee!

Today we wanted to stay close and not drive too far since we did a LOT of driving the previous day. We wanted to go to Anakeesta Mountaintop Park…but it was PACKED. The line was so long and we just didn’t want to pay to wait in line and go through the park SO we just walked around Gatlinburg, ate lunch and then headed to Hillbilly Golf!

The course was so much fun and we had such a good time! And of course, I started off AH-mazingly but somehow still lost to my husband! I think he fudged his scores 😉

After golf, we headed back to the main road and grabbed ice cream!

After our day in Gatlinburg, we headed back towards the cabin but stopped at Adventure Raceway in Pigeon Forge and drove some go-karts! This was the exact same place my husband drove go-karts as a kid!! And I think it probably looks the same 😉 Our boys still say that the go-karts was one of their favorites activities that we did in Tennessee. Boys for ya!

I had enough city stuff for the day and needed to get back in the trees! So we stopped at Metcaff Bottoms, which wasn’t that far from our cabin and required no long hikes, and the boys wadded in the freezing water. However we did hike a trail for about a 1/2 mile there and back. We wanted to hike all the way to the school but it was getting late so we turned back and drove there instead 😉

Then back to the cabin to count rocks! Haha!

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 from our Tennessee adventures! And my LAST Tennessee post will be coming out soon! Be sure to check it out!

Hope you all have a glorious rest of your week!

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 1 (Days 1 & 2)

I should forward this with a note that this was a trip…not a vacation…because let’s be real…if the kids are going, it’s a trip! 😉 Haha! We were told that from a friend a few years ago and it always stuck with us because it is so true!! You can’t fully relax with kids in […]

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 2 (Days 3 & 4)

Day 3: Grotto Falls; Place of a Thousand Drips; Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster Monday, September 28, 2020 Another gorgeous morning in the mountains! Seriously the BEST VRBO we have stayed in! We decided to hike Grotto Falls and it was a much easier hike than the previous day (to see Part 1 of my recap, […]

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 2 (Days 3 & 4)

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 2 (Days 3 & 4)

Day 3: Grotto Falls; Place of a Thousand Drips; Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

Monday, September 28, 2020

Another gorgeous morning in the mountains! Seriously the BEST VRBO we have stayed in!

We decided to hike Grotto Falls and it was a much easier hike than the previous day (to see Part 1 of my recap, click here).

The Grotto Falls hike was a bit more crowded than the Spruce Flat Falls hike and we passed quite a few people on the trail. AllTrails states:

Grotto Falls Trail is a 2.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is best used from April until November.

After Spruce Flat Falls, I would say this trail is easy! 😉 All of the comments on AllTrails is that the trail is more of a walk than a hike and is crowded, which I agree. Either way, it was still a beautiful hike and can’t beat getting out in the woods and ending with a waterfall!

The longest part of our walk was from the car to the trail! Haha, not really but we had to park so far away!

We made it to the trail! Now 1.4 miles to the falls and then 1.4 back! Plus 10 to the car! Haha! 😉

Clark was giddy walking under the waterfall! He was jumping up and down and was so excited!

We walked under the falls and found a little spot to sit and had some snacks before turning around and going back to the car.

Clark was being very dramatic! 😉 Anytime we would pick him up he would act like he is asleep! And so many people that we passed commented on how he was asleep and how cute…sneaky kiddo!

We made it out! Now to hike to the car!

The next stop was the Place of a Thousand Drips and you don’t even have to hike to see it! We drove right by and there was a little parking spot off to the side, so we parked and walked over to this gorgeous spot! And perk: no hiking involved! 😉

By now we were all hungry for a late lunch! As we drove back to our cabin, we stopped in Gatlinburg and ate at Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill. The boys loved watching the cars go by from the patio!

After lunch, the boys got to pick their own ice cream at Kilwin’s Chocolates and I was so envious! Their ice cream and sweet treats looked incredible!! Clark picked the mint chocolate chip and Troy picked the Superman. Looked soooooo yummy!!

After filling up on lunch and ice cream, we drove back towards our cabin but stopped at the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Y’all! It was so much fun!! Clark rode with Stephen and Troy rode with me and it was the most expensive 7 minute ride! Haha! BUT it was so much fun and I would highly recommend riding the coaster with your kids! They still talk about it and asked to go on it again and again. We didn’t get any pictures because we didn’t want to loose our phones, but here are a few pictures from their Facebook page:

We walked right up and got on immediately…no wait! We went at around 4pm and there was only a few other groups that arrived as we finished.

After the ride we headed back to our cabin on the mountain and Stephen grilled burgers and we watched another gorgeous, smoky sunset!

Day 4: Loudon & Vonore Drive

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It was a rainy day in the Pigeon Forge area so we decided to drive out to Loudon and Vonore to see the rivers and eat lunch out on a golf course. We debated renting a boat for the day in Vonore but it was just too chilly so we just enjoyed the drive instead.

Well, that is it for days 3 and 4!

Check back in Friday for Part 3! Until then, have a blessed Wednesday!!

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 1 (Days 1 & 2)

Smoky Mountain Tennessee: Part 1 (Days 1 & 2)

I should forward this with a note that this was a trip…not a vacation…because let’s be real…if the kids are going, it’s a trip! 😉 Haha! We were told that from a friend a few years ago and it always stuck with us because it is so true!! You can’t fully relax with kids in tow but it is ok! I absolutely love taking them on trips and experiencing new things through their eyes! The memories made are so worth every moment and I will cherish this trip forever! I will take trips with them anyway! 🙂 And we all absolutely LOVED visiting Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains stole our hearts!

Day 1: Travel Day

Saturday, September 26, 2020

We left our home in Texas bright and early at 4:45am! Obviously the boys were ready!

I packed breakfast, lunch and snacks for all of us, along with all the movies, games, coloring books and a little bit of homeschool work to work on during the drive. We managed really well and only stopped a couple of times.

One of our stops was in Nashville to visit the Parthenon. It was crowded and we didn’t go in, but it was a nice stopping point to stretch our legs and walk around outside. The grounds at the Parthenon are beautiful and the boys liked viewing the building.

We got back on the road and drove all the way to our cabin in the mountains, but picked up pizza for the boys for dinner at Geppettos Italian Restaurant on our way.

Our cabin did not disappoint!! The drive is something to remember and our little minivan made the step vertical trek quite well!

We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed the view before eating and taking showers…then we all climbed into bed and got some rest after the long day of driving!

Day 2: Spruce Flat Falls & Cades Cove

Sunday, September 28, 2020

The next morning we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle our first day in Tennessee!

I placed a Kroger pickup order and after breakfast (I packed pancake mix since I knew we wouldn’t have groceries yet), the hubs trekked down the mountain to grab our groceries for the week. Once he returned, we loaded up and hit our first trail: Spruce Flat Falls.

AllTrails states:

Spruce Flats Falls Trail is a 1.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Although short, this route includes some steep rocky sections that may require a bit of climbing.

A lot of comment on AllTrails states that Spruce Flat Falls is “a very hard trail and should be considered hard not moderate,” as well as “shorter trail and was more challenging but the end of the trail is totally worth it…the waterfall at the end is beautiful!”

I have to agree…this trail was definitely the hardest one we did as it was more of an incline, lots of slippery rocks and roots and very narrow trail in some spots.

We did purchase good hiking boots for all of us…kids included! I got the boys these cute boots from Carter’s and these for myself and so glad we did! We could not imagine hiking in regular sneakers as the arches of our feet were sore (even in tough hiking boots!) on some trails because of all of the rocks. We kept our hiking shoes in the car and swapped out our sneakers and boots whenever we needed.

Spruce Flat Falls was a gorgeous hike and we loved it! The boys even got in the freezing water and swam for a bit!

I packed lunches for us and so glad we did! We hiked to the waterfall, boys swam then dried them off and got them warm again and ate lunch on a rock overlooking the mountain.

After lunch, we hiked the remainder of the way back to the car and then drove to Cades Cove and drove the loop, stopping a couple of times to get out and check out the old, historic homes. Here is some info about Cades Cove:

The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. Pick up the self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the loop road for information about the buildings you’ll see in the cove and the people who lived here.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm

On our way home, Stephen picked up some moonshine cherries from Tennessee Shine Co. in Sevierville. One night he mixed it with sprite and he said that was delicious! I have to take his word for it! 😉

The sunsets at our cabin are incredible! We have so many pictures from the same exact spot…but we couldn’t help it!

Well, that is it for Day 1 and 2 of our Smoky Mountain Tennessee Trip! Check back Wednesday for days 4-6 recap, including our hike to Grotto Falls and a very unique one-of-a-kind experience…

See you all back here then! Have a wonderful Monday, friends!