August 11, 2020

Family Vacation to Denver, Colorado

Posted in: Story of Us, Travel

We took our first vacation as a family of three!  When my brother, Matt, moved to Denver last year, we were already looking at dates to visit him.  Little did we know that a global pandemic would throw a wrench in our plans.  Our original plan was to visit in May after tax season was over.  Then tax season got extended to July 15 and traveling wasn’t recommended in May.  We changed our plans to visit Denver after the July 15 deadline.

My brother has also had to travel back and forth to Florida for work.  We tried to plan around his schedule, but his stay in Florida was extended.  He graciously worked out a ton of details for us since he couldn’t be there.  He arranged transportation, a car seat, and we stayed at his place where he arranged for someone to wash the linens before we arrived.  What a great long-distance host!

LUGGAGE

The first time we stayed overnight in Mobile after Camryn was born, I told Weston that I didn’t know how we would ever go on vacation with a baby.  We brought SO much stuff!  Our car was packed.  We needed the car seat, Boppy pillow, infant bath tub, bassinet, bottles, pumping supplies, clothing, the list goes on and on.  I was devastated at the thought of never being able to leave the house without packing the car full.

Thankfully, we have had nearly two dozen weekend trips since then and really got the hang of packing lighter each time.  I am so proud that we packed for our vacation to Denver in ONLY 3 BAGS!  All three of us packed in one large suitcase, then we had a carry-on with a change of clothes for each of us and my camera, and Camryn’s diaper bag!  I couldn’t believe it!

CAMRYN’S FIRST FLIGHT

We flew out of Montgomery and had to leave the house at 4:30 AM.  That would give us plenty of time to check our luggage and get to our gate, plus gave us extra time for the unexpected things beyond our control.

Camryn’s first flight went better than we anticipated, which I attribute to the family and friends that lifted us up in prayer during our trip.  It also coincided with her morning nap, so that definitely helped.  She slept for most of the flight and was pretty chill during take off and landing.

We had about a two-hour layover in Dallas, which was enough time to get to our terminal and grab a quick bite to eat. Hey, Chick-fil-A!

It’s also worth mentioning that Camryn reached her hand out to hold onto the rails on the sky train. So. Adorable.

The second flight didn’t go as well as the first.  Camryn was more interested in waving at everyone, eating snacks, and standing in our laps.  She eventually fell asleep… as we were landing!  Only a few tears were shed on that flight.  Some of them might have been from me haha.

TRANSPORTATION

We usually either rent a car or use Uber or public transportation when we travel.  Traveling with a baby also meant traveling with a car seat.  The thought of carrying all our luggage and a car seat through the airport stressed me out a little, but I was determined to make it work.  A few days before we left, Matt called to tell us that his friend had an infant car seat we could borrow and we could use Matt’s truck while we were in Denver.  What a blessing!  Matt’s friend picked us up from the airport in Matt’s truck.  The car seat was already installed, so we really just had to hop in.  We can’t thank Matt enough for arranging all of this for us!

LODO DENVER

Since we didn’t want to carry a car seat and a stroller through the airport, we did not plan on bringing a stroller.  We said it would be less of a hassle to buy a cheap umbrella stroller when we got to Denver.  It ended up being the best purchase of the trip!  We even brought the stroller home with us because the quality was better than we expected!

We decided to take it easy for our first full day of sightseeing in Denver, so we slept in and had a late brunch in LoDo at Snooze.

After our delicious brunch, we grabbed coffee from Pig Train Coffee Co. at Union Station and just people-watched for a little while.  Camryn waved at every person that came inside.  Some people were super excited to wave back and some people ignored her.  Thankfully, she never got discouraged and continued waving at everyone she could!

We took a leisurely stroll through downtown to check out Larimer Square and 16th Street Mall.  You could tell they were big social spots, just not at the time we were there.  Many of the shops were temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

On our way home for the day, I saw a sign for Superior (the area we stayed in) and asked Weston if we could pull over to take a picture next to it.  To my surprise, he agreed!  I set up my camera on the sidewalk, set the self-timer, and quickly ran to get in the shot.  We only had to do two takes!

To wrap up our first day, we took Camryn to the playground for the first time.  She didn’t care much about the swing, but she sure loved sliding with each of us!

GARDEN OF THE GODS

The one place on my bucket list in Colorado was Garden of the Gods, which is in Colorado Springs.  We grabbed Chick-fil-A breakfast for the hour and a half journey to the natural landmark.  Praise the Lord that Camryn slept the entire ride there!

We drove around the park first to see where we wanted to explore.  Then we parked, grabbed the stroller, and we were on our way to exploring on foot.  I’m not sure what I expected at Garden of the Gods, but the sandstone formations were even more impressive in person.  I took way too many pictures and I kept asking Weston if we could stop for another one.  There were two places we stopped where I had my camera on the rock benches and used the self-timer.  Self-timer is the MVP of the trip because I desperately wanted nice family photos to document our vacation!

There were at least half a dozen rock climbers and countless passersby that stood in awe of the alleged crazy people willing to climb the massive formations.

Everyone seemed enamored with Camryn’s portable fan on her stroller!  Just about every other person that passed us commented on it.  They thought it was genius.  We thought it was just an ordinary way to keep our child from overheating.

We grabbed a late lunch at Panda Express on the way to Matt’s place.  All of us were exhausted, so we picked up dinner on the way in.  That way neither of us had to get back out after we put Camryn to sleep!

RED ROCKS PARK AND AMPHITHEATRE

Brunch is a pretty big deal in Denver, so we ate brunch at another cool spot downtown called Syrup.  I’m all about these breakfast foods later in the day!

Weston was most excited to see Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, which was a much shorter drive.  I had not researched this place.  I had no clue what to expect, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.  We brought the stroller, but we ended up carrying it half the time because of all the stairs.  So many stairs.  My lungs still have PTSD from all those stairs.  It was totally worth it for the view though!  Now Weston and I want to go back to experience a concert there!

The stroller came in handy for this photo!  I set up my camera on the seat, pressed self-timer, and quickly ran to get in position.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

Another priority for me was finding an awesome lookout to view the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  A quick Google search told me that Lookout Mountain was in between Red Rocks and Boulder, which was our next destination.  My photographer heart was super excited that there was stone signage that provided the perfect spot to use self-timer on my camera!  We got the family photos I wanted!

BOULDER AND THE FLATIRONS

After taking in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain view, we hopped back in the truck to visit Boulder.  We planned on eating dinner elsewhere, but the rain forced us inside a quaint Italian restaurant downtown.  It was delicious in spite of the obnoxious guest that loudly berated her husband, then asked for the manager to complain about her waiter, her food, and her wine.

We felt a little uncomfortable with the vast number of people walking downtown, so we decided to head to our next stop a little early – the Flatirons.

The Flatirons are beautiful rock formations that someone eloquently described as “rock formations that look more like a Bob Ross painting than real life.”  Definitely piqued my interest and definitely an accurate description.

As soon as we got out of the car, the wind picked up and the skies got darker.  We kept walking.  We had already come this far.  I had already given up on trying to get a self-timer family picture here.  An iphone selfie would have to suffice.  We stayed long enough to get a few pictures and then started walking back to the car.  I wrapped Camryn up in my rain jacket and held her close.  The wind got stronger and it started sprinkling.  We made it back to the car just in time and we were ready to call it a day!  But first, Starbucks!

COMING HOME

Our return flight was in the afternoon, which gave us a leisurely morning to pack up and enjoy breakfast with one last mountain view.

We picked up Matt’s friend so he could drop us off at the airport and return Matt’s truck for him.  We allowed ourselves plenty of time to get checked in, then found out the Denver airport has a nursing room.  Holla!  I was dreading having to find a secluded corner to feed Camryn.

Then we grabbed one last coffee and waited for our flight to board.  Mine and Weston’s seats ended up being separated and we couldn’t convince anyone to switch with us.  Thankfully, God blessed us with Camryn napping the entire flight!  I could not have handled a crying baby by myself!

We landed in Dallas, grabbed a quick dinner that we finished just in time to board our next flight.  Camryn was super cute and did well for most of the trip.  In the last 30 minutes of the 2-hour flight (and 6-hour travel day), Camryn had had enough.  She was tired, hungry, and ready to be home.  Who could blame her?  She started crying.  God bless the sweet family sitting behind us that played peek-a-boo with her to keep her entertained!  Her crying really wasn’t bad until we landed and she let out a piercing scream.  I’d love to say she slept for the final hour-long drive home, but she cried for most of it.

In spite of the last tear-filled hour and a half of our trip, this was actually one of the most relaxing vacations we have taken.  Most of our trips have plenty of travel-related stress, so we were thankful that the crying on the plane was the only truly stressful part of our trip.  I will say that I don’t think we would be singing the same tune if any of the flights had been longer than two hours!

Other than Disney World, where should we take our little one on vacation next?

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