As I sit here in our rented condo, Ethan and Jenny are sitting on the couch studying social studies (Jenny struggles, so they need to study), Quin is watching Monsters, Inc. on the iPad, it is brisk and snowing outside while the gas fire burns warmly in the fireplace. Our first ski vacation in 7 years is in full swing!
This vacation finds us in the beautiful US Rocky Mountains outside of Denver, CO. Though we’re already settled and active in our vacation activities, the trip started many days ago. Last Wednesday to be exact. We had settled down for a typical evening at home - Quin and Ethan were sleeping soundly in their beds while Jenny and I attempted to get some last minute television in before our whirlwind trip to Colorado. All seemed normal, that is until 10:30 when Quin called out from upstairs. It’s not atypical for him to wake up from time to time, particularly early in the evening. I slowly made my way upstairs to check on him. As I started walking down the hall, the door to his room opened and he walked out, covered in vomit. Awesome! Here we were, less than 48 hours from leaving for our trip, and Quin had come down with the flu! He was up the better part of the night, mostly dry heaving as he had done a pretty good job of emptying his stomach on round 1.
By the time morning rolled around, Quin was feeling fine. Too fine, actually. We had to keep him home, but he was up and bouncing off the walls by 6:30 the next morning already! The good news is that, should any of the rest of us come down with whatever he had, it should be pretty fast moving…
Friday morning came without further incident. Our flight was at 10:30 in the morning, so we wanted to make sure we got out of the house by 7:30 to make time for getting gas and travelling to the airport. The commute couldn’t have gone better - chalk one up in our favor! The roads were clear and traffic was light, so we were able to get to the ticket counter by 8:30 - no problem. Travel through the airport was fairly uneventful as well, which was a surprise. Quin has a tendency to run away. To give us peace of mind, we purchased him a “leash” disguised as a little backpack with a tether (yeah, it’s a leash). Turns out we probably didn’t need it, at least in the Milwaukee Airport, as Quin was so impressed by the whole experience that he stayed close the whole time.
After some breakfast, a trip through the security line (regular metal detectors, no full body scans today), and a short wait at the gate, we were finally aboard the plane awaiting takeoff. This was both Ethan and Quin’s second time on an airplane. It was the first time Quin was able to comprehend what was going on, though, as the last time was when he was only 5 weeks old. He was excited and a little scared, but he did great. He and I sat on one side of the aisle while Jenny and Ethan sat across from us. The boys bided their time on the airplane by utilizing many pieces of tech that are worth their weight in gold on a trip like this! Of course, at some point, a three year old’s attention span is still a three year old’s attention span, and Quin decided he had enough of sitting in one place. He had done so well for almost 2 hours, who could fault him for 30 minutes of ants in his pants?! After bouncing between our seats for awhile, he ultimately ended up in Jenny’s lap for a nap for the last 15 minutes of the flight.
After the nice flight and uneventful landing, we started trekking through Denver International Airport. The tentative plans were to land at 12:30, be in Denver for lunch by 2:00, check into the hotel, maybe swim for 30 minutes, then head up to Boulder for the beer festival. Ha, funny!!! By 2:00 we had finally gotten our luggage and made it to the rental car outpost. Things just take longer when you have kids along. At one point, I changed Quin’s pants after him having sat in them for 6 hours - he was wet. No more than 10 minutes later he had filled them again… By 3:00 we had finally gotten to the restaurant for lunch (note that is 4:00 our time, lupper anyone?), we did check into the hotel by around 4:00, but there was no time for swimming. I had purchased a ticket to the Avery Brewing Company’s 9th annual Strong Ale Festival, which started at 5:00 in Boulder, a 45 minute trip in good traffic.
So, immediately after checkin at the Holiday Inn Select at Cherry Creek, we got into our red Toyota Corolla rental car and headed out for Boulder. The 1.5 mile trip down Colorado Blvd. took a little longer than expected. We were on that road for 30 minutes! We did manage to get to Boulder by 5:30 and I attended a wonderful beer festival! So many beers that I had never tried, and true to the title, they were all strong. In fact, the prerequisite to have a beer at the festival was that the alcohol content was 8% or better. My company has an office in Denver, so I was able to meet up with one of the guys from that office along with his family which made for a less lonely beer festival overall. Surprisingly I saw many people from Wisconsin with whom I started up some casual conversations. All in all, it was a lovely 2 hours spent.
The original plan for the beer festival was to drop me off, have Jenny drive the kids back to Denver for some swimming, then come back to pick me up for the 9:00 closing time. After the hectic, traffic heavy drive, however, Jenny didn’t feel too comfortable that she would be successful in this venture, and I agreed. So we compromised - I shortened my night to 7:30 (more than enough time) and she took the kids shopping for the consumables we would be charged through the nose for on the mountain. That worked better…
When we finally got back to the hotel, it was around 9:00 Mountain time. Quin still hadn’t had much for a nap, Ethan was tired, I was tipsy, so we got in bed and went to sleep. Unfortunately, that is not where the adventure ended for me that evening. I’m not 100% sure that I didn’t drink “too much,” but I’ve had some experience judging this in the past, and I felt I stayed well within my limits on this particular occasion. Rewind two days to when Quin was up puking all night before the vacation - I’m pretty sure that’s what I caught. After an hour spent on the bathroom floor, I felt marginally better - well enough to sleep. Jenny woke up with the kids the next morning, took them swimming, got them breakfast, and by 8:00 I was feeling like I belonged among the living again. Again, I’m pretty sure it was just the flu!!!
We checked out of the hotel fairly early on Saturday and went over to Maylee’s apartment to await the caravan up the mountainside to our condo. Checkin time wasn’t until 4:00, so we had a fair amount of time to wait. Quin and Ethan bided their time climbing on the dog fence outside Maylee’s apartment while Jenny joined Maylee, her sister, and her mom to get some groceries.
By 2:00 we were ready to drive. After spending over 3 hours at Maylee’s apartment, we were happy to get moving again. However, we weren’t gone for more than 5 minutes before Ethan claimed he had to go to the bathroom! As we drove down Colorado Blvd passing gas station after gas station, Ethan was wondering loudly why we wouldn’t stop to let him go to the bathroom. So I took a page out of my vacation past and handed him an empty water bottle and told him to fill it up, explaining that we were in a caravan and couldn’t just stop and go to the bathroom. To my delight, he managed to tackle the task with vigor, filling it 1/3 of the way to the top, even though it took him quite a while to overcome his “stage fright.”
The drive up was uneventful. It was snowing lightly once we passed through the Eisenhower tunnel. Our luck seemed to continue as the weather called for a winter weather advisory for later in the evening, a prediction that partially came true.
We arrived at the condo a little after 4:00 and settled in. The condo is very nice. Two stories with a kitchen, spacious living room with a fireplace, and a bathroom on the first floor, and a master bedroom, loft bedroom, and bathroom on the second floor. More than enough room for the 4 of us!
After unpacking and laying claim to sleeping arrangements, we headed out to check out the town. The Winters had purposely booked this time of year for vacation due to the “En Fuego” party that they were having. En Fuego, according to the signs, is Spanish for “Good Times at Copper Mountain,” or something to that degree. The village was lit by bon fires. At 6:30, they had fire dancing courtesy of “Cosmic Fire,” which was a troupe of three young people that apparently had no fear of close proximity to flaming objects. After about a 30 minute show, they started a 15 minute firework display to finish off the evening.
After that we basically went back to the condo, had a beer, and Quin and I went to bed. Not sure what other fun happened after 8:00 because I was out for the count. The nice thing is that when Quin woke up at 6:00 the next morning, I had 10 hours of sleep already!
As Sunday morning dawned, we were looking forward to getting Quinton into something more structured. Daycare opened at 8:30 sharp, and apparently they mean 8:30, because we were there at 8:27 and we were unable to check him in. Too desperate? After dropping him off, getting Ethan’s rental skis, and obtaining our lift tickets, we were out on the slopes. It felt great to be on an honest to goodness hill for the first time in a long time. I had no idea how long it had been until Jenny and I took an assessment on the way up the hill one time. The last time we had been on a “mountain” run was at Copper Mountain 7 years ago! That’s too long…
The skiing was great. There was several inches of powder snow from the previous night, which I’m told is great. For us flat landers, it was challenging getting our legs used to skiing on anything other than ice, and on something that took more than 45 seconds to ski down! By the second run, all three of us (Jenny, Ethan, and I) were feeling very comfortable and excited about what we were doing. I will admit, I felt more than a little nervous on several occasions as Ethan caromed down the hill with what looked like absolutely no control whatsoever. When later challenged, he admitted he had absolutely no control! By lunch time, however, we were all looking like the solid intermediate skiers that we knew we were!
We took in a nice lunch at Endo’s Adrenaline Vault in Center Village. Ethan had maybe the largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever made! After lunch, we took on a couple more runs before panic struck. Ethan started getting a headache. It wasn’t long before he was diagnosed, by both Jenny and himself, as being dehydrated. Much like the previous day, we were no more than 20 minutes from lunch and Ethan needed to stop because he didn’t have enough water in him!!! We finally convinced him to do 2 more runs and then we’d head back to the condo for some rest. The first run went fine, but the second was maybe the most tragic skiing incident I’ve ever been a part of. There was plenty of sobbing and threats to throw up. The poor woman that rode the lift with us offerred to give him a stick of gum and some sage advice to drink water, but nothing was making him feel better.
We finally made it back to the condo around 2:00, which turned out to be plenty of time skiing the first time in so long! We left Ethan to rest on the couch while Jenny and I took in some hot tubbing with the Winters.
After picking up Quin from daycare, we settled into the condo lifestyle for a couple of hours - Ethan recovering, Quin playing, and Jenny and I trying to hold all of it together while planning dinner, baths, and whatever else adults have to do. At one point we were invited to the Winters for a drink, though Maylee was in the village at Endos again. I offered to let Jenny go there to spend some time with her, which she “reluctantly” took me up on. While she was gone, Ethan convalesced from his sickness so the three of us had some dinner, gave Quinny a bath, and hunkered down to watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As the movie was winding down around 7:30, Quin sat on my lap and fell asleep. Vacation’s hard!
Jenny finally made her way back, hungry and a little tipsy, by around 8:30. She dug through some of our leftovers of mac and cheese and hotdogs from supper while Ethan and I prepared our evening’s entertainment. The owners of the condo have a collection of old movies on DVD. One of the movies looked interesting. It was called “Copper Mountain” and starred Alan Thicke and Jim Carrey. The description looked promising, so we decided to give it a try. Wow. I can now say I have viewed the worst movie ever made. At 60 minutes, it was about 55 minutes too long! It makes most porno movies I’ve seen look like Oscar candidates! There was nothing we could do to top that experience, so we decided to head off to bed after that…
Monday morning rolled around. It was our planned day off from skiing, so we decided instead to do some sightseeing instead. After breakfast we headed into the village to get Jenny and I some caffeine and the kids some doughnuts. It was a little brisk, so we headed back to the condo and enjoyed some relaxing downtime through lunch.
After lunch, Ethan and I went tubing in the East Village. I wasn’t convinced going into it, but it turned out to be a blast. We took a video which I intend to link to here once I get it uploaded. That takes us to now - as I sit here “blogging,” Quin is enjoying a nap, Ethan is relaxing while watching “The Rookie” on TV, and Jenny is enjoying some more hot tubbing. Tonight looks to be relaxing and low key before tomorrow’s adventures - Quin is going back to day care, Ethan is enrolled in “Woodward,” a school that teaches kids how to do tricks on skis and snowboards, and Jenny and I have the slopes in our sights, this time without kids. For now, though, I have to concentrate on getting rid of the enormous amount of food and beer that we bought for this trip so I don’t feel bad about leaving so much of it behind.