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Home is where the body wash is.

Tell me I’m not the only one. Please? I have home soap, and away soap. The away soap is “good enough” for being away, but is isn’t what I’d pull out before a night on the town (usually from about 5:30pm - 9:00pm, that’s all I can handle) either. It’s like the “B team” of soap. If Kristi hadn’t made us all take a nap at 7:30am Saturday morning, a shower with the “A team” soap would’ve probably been the first thing I did upon returning home. Although the nap did feel good, even at a time when most people were either up for the day or just getting up. Do kids still watch cartoons on Saturday morning? Are they still as awesome as Voltron and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles?

Yes, home. Back to reality, back to school, dishes, laundry, vacuuming the food particles and cleaning the mystery stains from a week on the road. Time to get get back at it, yet also time to spend a few minutes reflecting on the past week.

Don’t tell her this, but I really appreciated my wife. A few times I had a unique way of showing it, but I did. With new places, new roads, and numerous children it was stressful at times to take in all the inputs and turn them into a logical plan. A second set of ears was certainly helpful with that. It was also appreciated how on numerous occasions when a child was done, like I’m not taking another step done, Kristi would take said child and in a way I was not able to convince the child that they were in fact not done just yet. This woud’ve been a slightly different trip without her… and at least one (maybe two) kids who are still in the “Daddy can lift me up without thinking” weight class is probably grateful they got to spend less time tucked under Daddy’s arm while hiking. My back ls likely grateful too.

Although she’s entering an age when all kids transition from mom and dad know best, to mom and dad are so dense, I certainly appreciated Kayleigh’s ability to help out with Josh, and her other siblings as needed. Often times it was just a simple distraction or a hand to hold, but she was usually there with a smile on her face. Some nights this even meant sharing a bed with Madeleine at her side, and Joshua at her feet. I’m sure she’s glad to be back in her bed, alone.

Benjamin has a motor and it was awesome. He’s kind of like the tortoise and the Energizer Bunny all at once. He has a pace and he does it forever. He often was our leader and more often than not he knew where he was going which is a good quality when hiking. He was also always eager to lend a helping hand at home and more often than not shared an encouraging word with those who were struggling.

Madeleine is tough. After the great butcher block blunder had passed she was out on the trails walking, running, and perhaps doing a cartwheel or two. For her the week was great because she got to spend it with her family. The kid is nothing if not loyal and loving to her family… even if she too has weird ways of expressing it. She made me a nice drawing the first day we were there and was driven to tears when she saw her younger brother had colored over top of it. She’s loyal and fierce… glad she’s on my team.

Joshua. Without too much hyperbole his head was likely in a figurative blender the whole time we were away. New places, new rooms, new things to do and ALWAYS with the hiking. Though it drives me nuts every time he protests a ‘No’ with a “Well _________ I didn’t get to ___________”, I guess it shows he strong willed and an advocate for himself which is going to be needed. Despite what must have been somewhat tortuous for him (and for the others, they just know better than to complain) he always started hikes with a good attitude and a lot of spunk.

So while I’m happy to be back in the land of my “A Team” soap, I’m equally glad we got away to do something and see each other in a slightly different light than we are used to. For anyone who has read this far (thank you) I’d like to share one last thought. Your kids are likely up for whatever you are willing to push them to do. Yes it will look like a child did it, yes it will be wrought with complaining, whining, fighting, and multiple snack breaks, but we find our kids limits for all things are usually set by us. So I (and alone, Kristi has no clue I’m even writing this) encourage you to step out and do that thing you think your kids or family aren’t quite ready for yet. It will either be an incredible victory, or an epic fail, but I’m finding that regardless of success or failure it usually results in a fond memory of something the family did together. I’m going to pay so dearly for saying this because it is cheesy… but go make a memory.

Soapbox out.

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7 Falls down Pike's Peak

Having been there a year ago Kristi and I were looking forward to visiting 7 Falls with the family. As it turns out after seeing Catamount, 7 Bridges, and Manitou Incline, it’s kind of a dud. I mean, there were only 244 stairs total. Now they were attached to the side of a rock and fairly steep, but nevertheless that isn’t even 10% of the Manitou Incline. So on Thursday, our last day, we headed out to 7 Falls, which unbeknownst to us changed their shuttle service location which made getting there extra fun.

We recreated the steps we took with the compound, forcing our kids to take the same pictures in the same locations and everything. In all honesty 7 Falls is a very nice, albeit borderline “touristy” site to visit and as long as your knees are good, a very accessible location.

Kristi and I even got to recreate a then (orange green) and now (black and blue) couples photos. So romantic, right? Interesting that we chose black and blue…

Thursday also happened to be the nicest and warmest day of the week. As the day progressed we kept checking to see if PIke’s Peak was going to be open. We had accepted that we’d just go as high as we could because it was now or never, so knowing that 18 of 19 miles were open we headed out with the hope that we could reach the summit. Wouldn’t you know, as we pulled up to the gate the signage stated they were OPEN TO THE TOP! Excellent! So up we went. I had a blast (albeit intense) driving up the mountain, someday I’d love to go back with a manual sedan instead of an automatic mini-van, but the Odyssey did well nonetheless. I should note, it was in the high 60’s at the base of the mountain, and 38 degrees at the top, what a difference.

Here are a few shots from the summit.

From the very top we could see (as picture) the North Catamount Reservoir, South Catamount Reservoir. and the Crystal Creek Reservoir. As you look at the photo in the middle is the South Catamount Reservoir where we had been a few days before, you can see how isolated it was :), and you can see up and to the right of the reservoir the Green Mountain Falls town, or trailhead. Kind of fun to see where we were and where we came from.

A few more shots from the day.

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Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs

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Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs

Confession: It is Saturday the 6th and I’m sitting on my couch watching basketball… as I mentioned earlier it was difficult to do all the activities, get the kids in bed, go through pictures, and then write something. So this is my best attempt to recap what happened on Wednesday.

Wednesday the plan was to go visit Garden of the Gods and then visit Pike’s Peak. This was our solution to something “easy” after our near disaster experience on the Catamount Trail. As luck would have it Pike’s Peak was still closed so we decided not to do that, and instead just visit the Garden and see what else there was to see. It was a good call as the kids (and perhaps us) were more apt to sit on our backsides than to move. I can’t say that much happened that is worth sharing, but the kids did enjoy climbing a bit.

We were also sure to hit the big spots like the Siamese twins with a unique view of Pike’s Peak, and Balance Point where we got a few more photos, and Madeleine demonstrated a cartwheel. Only to have Joshua try to keep up.

Later in the day we returned to our house, and then went to Manitou Springs to do some souvenir shopping. On our return drive Joshua pointed out the window and made it clear he wanted his picture with the blue horse… since we had nothing better to do I obliged. He wanted an old school buggy pic once we got there as well.

So with nothing else to share here are a few more photos of the day.

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