Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Souths Head West -- Day 3

Our last day in Colorado Springs was also our most relaxed day. The only thing we had on our to do list was their zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - elevation 6714 feet. We had heard wonderful things about the zoo and how it was built into the side of the mountain. Not to mention, you could feed giraffes---I mean, how cool is that?! We had one boy who was super stoked about the getting to feed giraffes and another that wasn't too keen on the idea. 

We arrived just as the zoo was opening, good thing too because out of all my planning the only thing that I didn't do was check when it opened!

When you first walk into the zoo you run right into the giraffes. They are truly the star of this show and with faces like this, they were getting loads of attention.

Logan's smile could not have gotten any bigger. It literally stretched from ear to ear. If he wasn't feeding the giraffes then he was trying to pet them. All 20+ of them.

Kaden on the other hand, well, he was staying a safe distance away. He's not all that big on having some huge animal in his face but he still enjoyed watching the interaction we had with them & talked about how cool it was. 

Giraffes aside, this zoo was still one of the best zoos that we have been to. Don't get me wrong, the Kansas City Zoo is great BUT it is beyond spread out and most visits we choose to either do Australia or Africa because it requires so much time to cover it all. Here, you just wound your way up the side of a mountain and everything was right on top of each other. So compact. This zoo was very intimate, you felt as though  you were right next to all the animals. & the animals were ALL so very active too. We literally saw every single animal that called this zoo a home & a lot of these animals are ones we do not have at the Kansas City Zoo.

(Logan was often in charge of choosing where and when we would take a picture.)

Our second stop was to visit the lions. There were two female lions and while one laid there looking all stoic, the other was incredibly playful. I wish I had captured it on video but she was playing with one of her toys---a cat and mouse like game. She would swipe the toy behind a pole with one paw and then swipe it back out with the other and if it got too far from her she would run, pounce and slide into the glass right in front of our faces. We probably stood there for a good 15 minutes watching her play & just as she decided to lay down, the other got up and was ready to play.

When we first walked into the monkey house the zookeepers were trying to get their female sloth to come out of her hammock but she was pretty active the day before and she would only give them her paw. So we moved on to check out the black bears but on the way back by they had opened her window and asked her to come out again & she was. A rope connected her indoor hammock to an outdoor tree and hammock and she was making her way to the outside perch. They were asking her to come out by using grapes and green beans--two of her favorite treats. & then Kaden started asking questions---do all sloths like grapes and green beans? How long do they sleep each day? Do you let her stay out here at night? All of which were great questions and he learned that they sleep anywhere from 15-20 hours a day and the speed that she was moving was really as fast as she goes. That sloths are very calculated with their movements so not to waste any extra energy since they have very little of it in the first place. We learned that they offer her the ability to go back into her inside home if she'd like but she doesn't always at night because she doesn't want to move. We also learned that in about a month they will stop offering her the chance to come outside because they'll open the window and she will peer out but will decide it's too cold and just stay put. It was all very interesting and again, so intimate. 

And what visit to the zoo would be complete without a trip on the carousel. They each picked out their own horse--Logan got Chief, total coincidence too.

We got to see a "MOOSE" and Justin even tweeted this picture to our favorite Royals player, Mike Moustakas.

We saw a mountain goat who climbed up on top of his shelter. A female wolf. Two porcupines being fed lunch. These cute little kitties called Canada lynx who happened to be born on little man's birthday, May 6, 2017---so of course he wanted a picture with the sign. We fed little parakeets & took a few pictures with a wallaby, who were just out and about with us chilling.

 We saw a few mountain lions, a tiger who would walk from one side of his habitat to the other over and over for us. & we of course saw elephants and alligators, snakes and beavers.

& before we called it good for our time at the zoo we took the ski lift to the top of the zoo for a little family picture with all of Colorado Springs in the background.

As we were headed out the zoo we walked by the giraffes again and we couldn't help but feed them one last time before hitting up the gift shop. Logan and I were the most excited about it but Kaden did "hold" onto my arm and "push" it up to the giraffes mouth to "feed" one. I was pretty proud that he pushed a little bit of his fear aside to do that too. 

At the gift shop the boys both got to pick out a little something to take home with them. We pointed to a couple medium size stuffed animals and then even pointed at some large ones but nope, Logan wanted to of the little stuffed animals--a cheetah and a giraffe & Kaden went with the same cheetah and then a Rubik's cube key chain that had animals on it. Sadly, that didn't last long and it was broke in a matter of minutes but we are going to try out best to fix it--or find another one!

That evening the only thing the boys wanted to do was swim & order room service. So that's what we did. They spent most of their time in the water but once in awhile they wanted to take a break and when they did, we played a little family game of Phase 10. The boys (Justin included) had never played so it was Daddy and Logan vs. Mommy and Kaden---we didn't finish the game until we returned home but Kaden and I dominated. 

To say we LOVED every minute of our time in Colorado Springs would be a huge understatement. It was so family friendly with so much to do and the weather was beautiful. It was the perfect little holiday road trip to recharge our batteries and to remind ourselves what life is really about--building memories that will last a lifetime with my three loves. So it's not goodbye, it's see you later--we will certainly be back next year.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Souths Head West - Day 2

Out of the entire trip there was really only one place we needed to be at a certain time & that was the Cog Railway to take a train to the top of Pikes Peak. We had a 9:20 am departure and was told we had to be there about 30 minutes beforehand but no more than 40 minutes before departure. The window was small but thankfully the resort and a buffet breakfast available & it wasn't very busy at 7:30 in the morning. Plus, the kids ate for free--up to 11 years of age, they asked how old Kaden was and I think they were a little surprised by the response they got. He may look older than 8 but no way does he look 11--at least if he does, don't tell his already sentimental mom that he does! 

Both boys loved our little morning breakfast at the lodge, how could you not when you had this kind of view of the mountains. & all you could eat of yummy pancakes and waffles. 

Although the train depot was only a few miles away Waze said it would take about 20 minutes and 20 minutes it took. We weaved in and out of a quaint little downtown area where we could have spent hours just piddling around. 

Once we had arrived we asked if we had made reservations and Justin handed ours over and the nice man congratulated us on making the smart choice--I guess not everyone makes a reservation and just shows up in hopes they will get on and most of the time, they don't. Anyways, we parked and headed to get our tickets & then to the souvenir shop. Both boys picked out a compass as their souvenir and then we got three postcards. One for our friend Hannah whose class is trying to collect a postcard from each state & then one for each of the boys. I wrote to Hannah, and the boys wrote on themselves and then we mailed them once we returned to the hotel. We actually decided that we will add fourth color of push pin to our travel board and start pinning places where postcards come from--Grammy is starting to travel a little more and it will be fun to pin a few new places! 

But back to the Cog. You could hike, bike, drive a car or ride the train up to the top of Pikes Peak. Hiking and biking were definitely out. We could have driven our car but we wouldn't have been able to enjoy the views as much as we did on the train, so the Cog it was. Plus, the boys love trains & they even asked if Papa Tom had driven this one before--sorry buddies, not this one. 

We had about an hour and half ride up the mountain. We passed the time by playing a few games of "name that animal" and Rock, Paper, Scissors but mainly we just took in the view.

The boys didn't quite get why I brought their coats and made them wear their hats but once they stepped out onto the top of Pikes Peak the were begging for their coats. It was somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees which was about 40+ degrees cooler than it was at the bottom of the mountain. 

Elevation of 14,115 feet.

We weren't as easy going at the top of Pikes Peak as we were at the Garden of the Gods. The boys had one rule---STAY by us. Not just listen, but stay. We kept our distance from the sides too. If it were just Justin and I, we would have probably ventured a little further down into the rocks but I was worried what one small slip of a foot would turn into. My mom fear got the best of me.

We had about 20 minutes on top of the mountain before our train had to start its decent so we made the most of it. Restrooms. Pictures. Hot Chocolate. Rest Rooms again. 

& on the way back down Logie fell asleep in my arms which is always a treat.


We quickly jumped off the Cog, loaded up in the Yukon and headed off to grab a quick bite to eat. Even though our next activity didn't have a start time till 6:10, which was well over 5 hours away, we wanted to plenty of time to piddle paddle around Denver. That's right, we were driving up to Denver to check a bucket list item off for the boys. Or us. Whatever way you look at it, we didn't have a lot of down time before needing to hit the road so we could enjoy a little of downtown Denver. 

We were headed to a Rockies game which just so happened to be on Blake Street so we of course had to take a picture with the street sign and send it to Cousin Blake--photo cred goes to Kaden.

& then we went to the View House. It was a recommended by a local friend of ours & he was right, plenty to do for the boys in their outdoor area but sadly, they were all taken. What were we expecting, it was after all Labor Day Weekend and game night. They settled for a picture & we hung out in the bar watching opening day of college football--I know, we are awesome parents but hey, they did have a kid's menu so we can't be that bad!

Coors Field marks the 6th ballpark the boys have visited. It is our goal to get the boys to a new ballpark (or two) a year. We fell short last year and thus a last minute trip to Denver this year so we could get back on track. So far they have been to Miller Park in Milwaukee, Target Field in Minneapolis, Global Life Park in Arlington, Wrigley Field in Chicago (although our game got rained out, we had the tickets and made it there before it got called so to us, it counts) and Kauffman Stadium in KC--our home field with the Royals. We are slowly but surely checking off all the Midwest teams before venturing too far east or west--except I can see Oakland Coliseum and AT&T Park happening sooner rather than later due to having family living in the area.

Justin did an awesome job picking out the seats for the game with not knowing much about the ballpark. He chose to sit behind home plate and we ended up on the last row which was perfect with the boys. The sun was never in our eyes, we could see every part of the game and even though the Royals weren't in town (Greinke & Holland were though), the boys were very engaged. It was a great game to help teach Logan the "game" of baseball a little more--Kaden was all over calling where the play was when a new batter came to the plate & Logan caught on very quickly. & the weather couldn't have been more beautiful to take in a ballgame.

We made friends with both families that sat next to us. One couple, an older couple traveled in from Wyoming for the series---they do a few trips a year to catch a couple different series at Coors Field and have been to most every ballpark---just chatted it up with Kaden. I'm not sure who enjoyed their time more, them or Kaden. & then the other family had a son who was off to the Air Force, he was decked out in his dress colors. Both mom and dad were also in the armed forces, the father being a retired marine. They were from Southern California & I believe they both attended USC but were in town visiting for the holiday and decided to take in a game with their son. They were so friendly and so very kind to the boys too--offering to share their cotton candy but after about 6 innings the exhaustion from the long day started to set in with us all. Plus we had a little over an hour drive ahead of so we called it good. We said our good-byes to both families and wished this wonderful young man good luck. We prayed that God would be with him as he defended our beautiful nation & then we started our drive back to Colorado Springs.