Our end of 2023 vacation location was picked by Evie for her birthday trip. It is what we like to do instead of birthday parties. She asked to go skiing, and we decided on Colorado because it was a perfect reason to visit some friends too. 

After her birthday and Thanksgiving, we packed up and flew into Denver, Colorado. I am not sure what we were expecting, but it was weird and dry and brown. It seemed more like a desert, but that’s because your equator-based family is not used to the first snow, killing all the plants. Then snow does not stay, so brown is what is left. We did not have that view for long, because after we landed and collected our car, we started the drive into the mountains. The mountains are stunning, especially as the sun was setting behind them on our drive.

We picked Copper Mountain for our skiing part of the vacation. The selling point was that kids ski for free and I was pretty sure that Isla was not going to try, so why pay for it. It ended up only being Evie and I on the slopes, but the free child was still a great perk! We arrived and checked into the village after dinner. We stayed in a building near the center Village, with awesome parking underneath so our car stayed out of the snow. There was also snow everywhere, so of course we had to play in it our first night. It was absolutely beautiful and unusual for us.

The next morning I got to experience the walk to Starbucks in the 20 degree weather. It was fun for a vacation, but definitely not something I could ever live in for more than a week. After eating, Evie and I picked up our skis and started on the bunny hill. She picked it up quickly and we moved on to the intermediate hill. It was a lot of fun, but then I wanted to try the main hill. Evie was not up for that yet so everyone else hung out and I got on the lift that was recommended to take next. 10 minutes on that lift and I started to worry about what I got myself into. I have only skied on hills on the East side. It did not register that this mountain was 8 times the height of anything else I’ve skied. It really felt like I was never going to get off the lift, but I did and then I had to make it down. I’ll keep it short and say that there was a lot of falling. I followed all the “easier” marked trails and yet it seems that I kept meeting these intense slopes straight down. I never crashed into a person, and I also did not have to be rescued, so I felt pretty proud of my accomplishment. I however could not walk in my boots or breath once I arrived back in the village. Chris had to come a rescue me with my snow boots and carry my things. He also came with this can of oxygen, which is the best invention ever. The air is already very thin up there and he was feeling the difference from walking around. I don’t think I did, but the excursion of surviving that mountain was making me feel it. Canned oxygen to the rescue!! And a nap too. I do not really remember the rest of that day, probably because I had to pass out, but we did eat at one of the restaurants in the village and walk around in the snow some more.

We had one more ski day at the mountain and I ventured over to the western track because those slopes look calmer. Unfortunately because it was early in the season the was not enough on the ones I aimed for and they were closed, so I found myself skiing down the same hard hills as the day before. I survived again without having to be saved from the hill. I consider it another accomplishment.

After checking out from out ski resort, we started the drive back to Denver on the freshly plowed roads. I was definitely nervous that I would have to drive in the snow, but it snowed all night and was done by morning. We were able to see the fresh white, but also not drive in it. Such a relief!

On the drive back we stopped at Lookout Mountain for an awesome view of the city. We also stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum which is right beside his grave as well. The museum has a really cool gift shop and a little diner with hot chocolate, fudge and other simple diner food. They had giant pretzels, which the girls had been on the hunt for. We also drove to the Red Rock Amphitheater and made the trek up and down the stairs to check out the massive venue. I would love to be able to hear the acoustics of that rock some other time.

Before our vacation I purchased the Denver City Pass, which proved to be a great way to visit a lot of the museums we wanted to visit. Before checking into our hotel, we stopped at Wing Over the Rockies, Air and Space Museum. We also saw a lot of airplane models, from a variety of time frames. There was also planes from Star Wars and other aircraft. The kids were able to design their own paper airplanes and test them out in their little air landing cages. That night, after checking in and walking to dinner, the girls got to experience their first snowfall! Catching snowflakes on their tongue and watching everything turn white. We could not have planned that.

Our next Denver adventure was the  Aquarium. Isla loves every opportunity to see and learn about animals. She might be our future zoo keeper, and hopefully animal conservationist. This aquarium also housed a rescue tiger and a bearcat. The coolest, non-water animals that I have ever seen in an aquarium. The tiger was even posing.
Around the corner, and a short walking distance was the Children’s Museum of Denver, and it was one of our favorites. It has all the normal things like fire safety, a vet and the grocery store. On the top floor they had a building area. There were projects of different levels and recycled supplies of various types as well as the tools and fasteners needed. Evie made a dinosaur, that she was really proud of and figured out how to fit in the suitcase to bring it home. Isla made a caterpillar. The even better part was going outside and playing in the snow! There was a tiny sledding hill and snowball makers. The girls had a field day until we decided that it was probably time to warm up. We grabbed some lunch and visited Mile High Comics before a nap. The main reason I wanted to visit this giant warehouse of comics, was to meet the warehouse cat. There was also a dog, that I greeted, but I was there for the cat. If you are looking for comics, games or anything of that sort, this place is huge and has a great selection.
For our evening meal, we went to Stanley Marketplace. It is almost like a mall with ton of small vendors and food places inside this old plane hanger. We could have sat at a restaurant, but instead we picked and choose our way through a variety of places, ending with ice-cream. Definitely a cool place that I would recommend visiting.

One of our reasons to visit Denver, was because our friends had moved there last year. We met Carley at the zoo for another one of our City pass locations. It’s a little cold for a zoo, but it was a nice walk and catch up, and then we ate amazing sandwiches made by Hunter, at his little corner coffee shop. Later that night we meet them again in downtown Denver at the Christkindlmarket. A German Christmas market with German food, beer and fun trinkets They also have a light up metal Christmas tree and light up the surrounding city buildings. A fun experience if you plan to visit around Christmas time.

For our final day on Monday we went to this huge, multi story Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was floors of regional wild life displays. A whole body display and a special color exhibit. There is also a wonderful view of the city from the top floor. We had one more admission on our city pass, and the girls choose the Colorado History Museum. We did not have much time there, but we did get to go into a teepee, explore through an old school house and store and do some other interactive exhibits. 

Colorado was an amazing experience, from the skiing to the museums in the city. There is so much more to explore there and I really want to return to see it in all it’s spring or fall beauty. It is on the to do list for the future. Perhaps when my legs can handle a good long hike again.

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