Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pagosa Springs and the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Refuge

We woke up the first morning to Jack shouting "Balloon!" and pointing out the window. Apparently the resort we stayed next too launched an hot air balloon ride every morning right off our back porch - So every morning we watched it inflate and float away. It was a pretty cool vacation surprise. 

A vacation, to us, involves a lot of down time mixed in with the adventure. We found a used bookstore when we stopped in Santa Fe and stocked up. There was lots of green space for the boys to run/crawl around and we had a long slow morning before we took the boys to the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park (Refuge). 

We saw 'Princess' the grizzly bear

They had food you could feed the ducks and goats and rabbits that roamed freely - Jack thought this was AMAZING!

The coyote was ALL about the pets from the handler

I'm not going to lie, seeing this mini horse colt? Made my day.

The wolf hybrids were not interested in anything but sleep in the noon sun

The boys got a stuffed animal as a souvenir - Bobcat (Jack's) now has to be tucked in and gets a kiss as well every night. 

I don't know what was so facinating, but it was so much fun to watch them play

Piggyback rides...

This is Zane's side smile, he gives it to all the grandmas so they coo at him

I don't know what the conversation was about - but it was serious

That evening after dinner we took a stroll along the river walk to see the hot springs and enjoy the weather. We also found a pirate ship playground to finish the day off with.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Chama and Toltec Train - The Cinder Bear Express

Whew! Two new babies joined the family this past week and I've taken about 800 photos - and I am looking forward to a real newborn shoot next week sometime with my two little nieces and their Mamas.

In the meantime here is to catching up - our "big" adventure on our vacation to Pagosa Springs was to drive to Chama, NM and take the boys on the Chama train. We opted for the "Cinder Bear Express" which had us getting off the train after two hours and riding a bus back to the Chama station for lunch. Cinder Bear meets you at the station when you first arrive - I can't say he was the biggest hit with Jack, we took a family photo with Cinder Bear but Jack hadn't gotten enough sleep and wasn't excited about a man sweating in a bear suit. However, after we got on the train Cinder Bear spent some time outside the window waving and giving Zane high-fives and Jack eventually warmed up.

Our seats were literally the very front seats in the very first car. I can't say that that made a huge difference to us one way or the other but did we get to see a lot of the smoke! I found it rather crazy that we saw at least 5 drones in the air during the trip taking photos and filming - one got swallowed by the smoke as we puffed by and I laughed.

There are many people who seem to follow the train and take pictures whenever there is a place to stop. Someone drives Cinder Bear ahead in a car and he is standing waving at the train at several crossings before he boards the train later on for more photo ops.

We sat in our seats for about 10 minutes before heading back to the observation car. I was surprised that it wasn't packed. There was a guide pointing out anything interesting - like where they filmed the scene in Indiana Jones when he is a young boy and swings aboard a passing train into a boxcar full of rattlesnakes.

Honestly, with little kids the Cinder Bear Express was the best package to go with. The boys were ready to get off the train when it stopped at 10,000 feet to get more water. However, the scenery is beautiful and it is definetly worth going. It was so lush and green and you pass the most adorable cabins and ranches. On the way back we saw a cowboy herding hundreds of sheep on a mountain top. I wish I'd gotten a picture but I was too busy keeping Jack from falling out of his seat - you have to have a carseat at all times unless you are in a vehicle made for 50 plus people these days!

I popped out and took a few photos from the ground before the train left

The view from our seats

Engine 489, and the scene that awaited us when we first pulled up

High-fiving Cinder Bear

On the observation car (and open boxcar) 

There are many curves in the track, making for some great photos, but you will probably end up also getting a head, a phone or a camera in all of your shots since everyone has the same idea

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Harrell House Bug Museum and Abiquiu Lake

When you've spent the first five years of your marriage in college, two babies, a new job, a lay-off and job hunting again there isn't much time for vacation. And while vacations aren't necessary, they are awfully fun once in a while. With a new job starting in August and time off until then, Blair and I decided to take the boys on a trip to the mountains (of course). I love love going up into the mountains. They soothe the soul, melt away anxiety and stress and, with their magnitude, put everything little thing into perspective - plus its usually 20 to 30 degrees cooler in the summer which can't be beat! 

We took a four hour road trip up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, stopping in Santa Fe for lunch and too splash around at Abiquiu Lake. The original plan had been to tour the carved sandstone cave in Abiquiu and see the Georgia O'Keefe museum and Ghost Ranch, but the cave requires reservations. Instead we hopped online while eating lunch to find something the boys would enjoy and discovered the Harrell House Bug Museum in Santa Fe. Now, as any mom of boys knows, this was sure to be a hit. 

Do note that the museum isn't in a traditional stand-alone building, you will find the Harrell House inside the Devargas Shopping Center and there is no sign on the outside - at least on the side we parked on. Admission is quite cheap at $6 for adults and 12 and under are $4 and two and under are free. 

Once inside you will be given a mini flashlight (much to the delight of Jack) to help you see in some of the dark cages where the tarantulas are. Did I mention that there are a huge variety of tarantulas? Because there is. One of the biggest collections I've ever seen. Including the one that is known for eating birds because it is so big. *shudder* as in nearly 10 inches across. *shudder* - so fair warning - if you really are an arachnophobe don't scroll down because I have pictures. You will also find lizards, fish and other live bugs as well as an impressive collection of mounted insects. Another aspect that we enjoyed was that the cages start at ground level and there are sturdy step stools so that toddlers like Jack can see more on their own. I think this little (and it is little, guys) museum is a great place for field trips for public or home schooled families or 4-Hers.

Because I am really trying to fit one day of vacation per post here is our stop at Abiquiu Lake. It was hot and the kids weren't napping when we came over a rise and saw the lake. Blair isn't a super fan of wading around so I took the boys to play and he took pictures - which worked out lovely because we've both been trying to get me in more photos. When you are the photographer it is easy to always be behind the lens. 

We splashed, I walked Zane around, Jack insisted on 'helping' when he wasn't tossing rocks and looking for shells. As I was getting shoes back on Jack decided to "rock climb" up the side of the inlet we were at - he was very proud of conquering it. Also? Red sunglasses on a two year old? Killer man, killer. All in all it was a great start to our family vacation.