Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hunting for moose

We vent to Boulder for lunch (and dinner!) on our final day in Colorado.  We all agreed it was a great place and we need to go back in the near future to spend more time there.

Our main goal this day was to hike "off the grid" (a little) to find some mountain lakes and maybe see a moose or two.  We left Boulder and drove into the mountains to Brainard Lake.  It was a  gorgeous 3 hour hike with hills of melting snow along the trail. We made it to Mitchell Lake where Kyle took a dip in the  crystal clear, freezing water.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any moose (but Grace bought a little stuffed moose to take home.  She named him Mitchell after Mitchell Lake).

And...luckily, we didn't encounter any mountain lions!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Living at altitude

On our last day in Colorado Springs, we learned more about how altitude affects your body.  Our day started by visiting the Olympic Training Center for a tour.

This facility is where some US athletes come to live and train.  They have dorms, doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, trainers, and some of the best technology in the world for our athletes.  It was so interesting to see the pools, shooting range, and the para-Olympic basketball team and men's gymnastic team practicing.

We saw a room where they can change the temperature, altitude, and humidity so the athletes can train in the same conditions they will see when they compete.  There was also a treadmill that allowed an injured athlete to run on an injury by reducing their body weight to as little as 20%.  Our guide said injuries heal faster when athletes continue to use their muscles during recovery.

Later that day, we got a real taste of what it feels like when you are at over 14, 000 feet on the top of a mountain.  The Colorado Geological Survey says there are 58 mountains with peaks that are over 14,000 feet high.  Pike's Peak might be the most famous one because the cog railway makes it accessible to most people.

It was recommended that we attempt this trip later in our visit after we felt acclimated to the altitude but when we got to the top after the 1 1/2 hour ride, you could definitely feel the difference in the air density and temperature.

Parts of the ride were just trees on both sides.  But then we rose above the trees and saw this spectacular view.

You could see for miles and we kept talking about what is must have been like as an early settler discovering this and then trying to cross it.  It was interesting to see the old carriage trails that were used to get up the mountain back hundreds of years ago.  There was even a hotel about halfway up!

As we got closer to the top, the scenery seemed more like the surface of the moon.

And, then, as it did most afternoons when we were in Colorado, the clouds moved in just as we reached the peak.  We could see a little but the view wasn't as good as it was on the ride up.

You are only at the summit for about 30 minutes, which is enough.  By then we were feeling a little dizzy and lightheaded.  It was funny how everyone on the train seemed so tired on the way back down.  I guess that is what limited oxygen will do!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

And the summer fun continues...

I am not done posting our Colorado photos, but the summer keeps moving along.  We are working through our summer bucket list with many fun activities.  Plus, some surprises have popped up!

On the bucket list was Grace's first visit to Cedar Point. We went on July 4th with Jill and Jacob and had a great day letting the kids take the lead.

They both ended up trying rides that they might have if they had been alone.  We also discovered that Grace likes roller coasters!  She rode Gemini, the Iron Dragon, and the mine coaster.

One of the things on our list is a visit to a Lake Erie beach.  We live about an hour away from the lake but to always seems so far away.  The tall ship festival at Fairport Harbor was a good excuse to drive up there.

We started out by exploring the one ship that was docked at the festival site.  After a little walk we came back but no other boats had arrived.  When I inquired about why there was only one ship, they said the others didn't show up and they offered us a FREE 90-minute ride on the lake.  This was the equivalent of $130, which was great, but we had about an hour to wait until the next trip.  So, while we waited we walked over to the beach.

We also climbed the 69 steps to the top of the lighthouse and squeezed through the hole at the top for a 360-degree view.

When we came down, Grace found a painted rock that is part of #NortheastOhio Rocks.  We have found a few so far.

When it was time to set sail, we were ready for a peaceful ride on the lake. We rode the Madeline, a 65-foot schooner from Michigan.  The captain told us that after today in Ohio they were going to sail for 72 hours to get back to their home port.  They will have half their crew working and half asleep in 6 hour shifts for the entire sail back home.

Grace was the only child on board and she volunteered to help raise the sails.  She was very interested in learning how they use the sails to move the boat and asked a lot of questions.

Sailing a tall ship was not on the list, but we added it when we got home.  Check!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Golden and a glacier

If you would have told me at the beginning of this day that we would hike to a glacier, I would not have believed you.  We set out to go tubing along Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado, the town that is famous for the Coors brewing factory.  But the day didn't go as planned...

We parked right next to the river, but, even though it looked inviting, signs warned that the water levels were too high and the river was closed to fishing, tubing, and swimming.

We thought we would drive to Idaho Springs along the river to see if there was another point of entry that would be safer.  But when we looked at a map, Kyle saw St. Mary's Glacier, pointed to it, and said that is where he wanted to go.  So...we got back in the car and headed in that direction, not sure what we would find.  Thanks to the internet and people who gave very detailed directions about where to park and how to find the (rocky) path to the lake, we made it!

St. Mary's Glacier is in the Arapaho National Forest at the end of a 3/4 mile, rocky, uphill walk. There were many people doing the same hike and those coming down assured us that the walk was worth it when you get to the lake.

They were correct, because we were greeted with a crystal clear lake with a snowy glacier in the distance.  There were people walking and snowboarding on the glacier, others camped or enjoyed a picnic along the lake, and a few of the bravest dipped their toes (or jumped into) the freezing cold water.

Including Grace and Kyle!

I stayed as warm as possible on the shore.

We also got to see a helicopter land and people get out and head up the side of the mountain. We guessed they were "search and rescue" doing training.

This day was a perfect example of being flexible and taking the path less traveled.