As Lisa commented on FB tonight, “You guys had a BUSY weekend” and we certainly did! I’m sitting here waiting for my laundry to be done b/c I have no clean underwear (TMI? Probably…) so I figured I’d update the blog.
Friday– exercise class in the AM. A photo of Kota playing w/ some of the kids on the playground after class:
And then a cute 1 of the girls after we picked Skylar up from school- sitting on the steps eating their Chex Mix snack:
And then it was warm enough that afternoon that I asked if they wanted to play in the water. And they did so we filled up the baby pool:
And the little water table without legs:
And we played til Chris got home at about 5:30pm:
Summy thinks the water table is her personal pool🙂
When Chris got home I asked if he wanted to do anything in particular for dinner and he said he was kinda thinking Chuck E Cheese. And I was feeling adventurous (hey, it’s a holiday w/e, right?!?) so I said Summy and I would join them🙂
Dancing w/ Chuck E. Cheese and getting free tix afterwards:
And Summy “playing” a game:
At ~8:30 pm Summy started getting crabby so we decided it was time to head home. And 1 last photo from the night of Skylar reading her library book to Kota at bedtime that night:
I think the face Skylar was making b/c it was the part of the story where the “Chunky Toddler Crayon” talks about the little brother taking a bite of him🙂
I had come up with my weekend plan of doing a hike on Sat AM, the balloon glow Sat PM, then the Lift Off Balloon stuff Sun AM, the PSU Women’s Volleyball game Sun PM, and then another hike on Mon AM. And I hoped everything worked according to my schedule and we could fit it all in. Amazingly enough- we did! I had researched hikes earlier in the week and came up with Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls for 1 hike and then Seven Bridges as our other hike. So we did Helen Hunt Falls & Silver Cascade Falls Sat AM. The hike to the top of Helen Hunt Falls isn’t really even a “hike” in my opinion- more like just walking up some stairs to get to the top of the falls (I think they said it was .1 miles?) but hiking to Silver Cascade Falls gave us a little more distance and exercise altho Silver Cascade Falls was not very impressive in my opinion. The view of the canyon and the Springs in the background were more impressive that the waterfall. Anyway, I digress. A photo of the girls at the bottom of Helen Hunt Falls:
So you can kinda tell from this photo how short of a walk it is to the top of the falls. A photo at the top on that bridge:
And then we kept on going on the trail to get up to Silver Cascade Falls. Skylar next to the stream with a random small waterfall:
And here’s Kota looking at the side view of Silver Cascade Falls- if you look VERY closely to the left of her head, you can kinda see a stream of water spraying up into the air- that was about the most exciting part of Silver Cascade Falls. Otherwise, it seems like it was just water running down a huge slab o’ rock.
If you kept going on the trail you got to the lookout area and you could look down on the falls (we had to lift the girls up so they could see over the wall). Here they are crossing a little bridge that was just above the lookout area and the falls:
Panoramic photo of the lookout area- the canyon and the Springs that you can barely see in this photo:
A more close up photo:
I had taken a photo of the “waterfall” from the lookout area- here’s the uncropped photo. Can you even tell where the “waterfall” is?!?
And then an extremely cropped photo zooming in on the water:
Like I said, not terribly impressive. But we explored the stream area a bit upstream from the ‘waterfall’ and had fun before heading back down.
Chris explaining something to the girls:
We ate lunch in the car on the way home and got home in time for a nap for Summer and some playtime for S&D. Then at about 4:30 pm we headed for Memorial Park where the Labor Day Liftoff Balloon Festival was being held. We got some “healthy” dinner from the food vendors there- brats, hot dog, burger and cherry limeade (Skylar wanted to try it- it was kinda yucky so we didn’t finish it). Oh, and of course we brought some mac & cheese from home for Kota for dinner🙂 Our little picnic in the grass w/ Pikes Peak in the background.
And then we walked around to explore everything before the balloon glow started at 7:30 pm. No balloons were set up yet when we got there- they probably didn’t start w/ any balloon activity til about 6:30pm. They had an entire “kid zone” where they had bouncy houses, the rubber band/bungee jump on trampoline thing, etc. set up but we told the girls no and that we were here to see balloons- not do activities. We walked over by Prospect Lake and played for a little bit there. And then at 6:30pm they had the “introduction” and played the national anthem and then all the balloons started setting up. The girls liked this heart balloon:
And they loved getting to be close-up and watch all the balloons being inflated. And they also loved watching when they turned the burners on and got to see the balloon lift up off the ground and into the air:
The announcer said they had 70 balloons participating this year but I would say not all 70 were there for the balloon glow on Sat night. But it was fun to see so many of them! A panoramic shot of the grounds- the girls and I are sort of in the middle of the photo:
There was a pretty good crowd of people there that night to see the balloons! And a neat one showing the line of balloons:
And then finally at 7:30 pm they did the first “All burn” balloon glow! Pretty cool looking! I was having flashbacks to 1996 when I was in Albuquerque for their balloon fiesta and there were 800 (800!!!) balloons there that year.
Another “all burn” photo:
We got a couple videos of the “all burn” and “flicker” (where the balloons turned their burners on/off quickly to make a “flicker” effect) and I also video’d the girls faces one time during the “all burn” to catch their looks on video🙂 Unfortunately, the wind kicked up at about 8 pm and cut the show short. You can see the balloon on the right side of the photo above looks like it was deflating and it was probably b/c of the wind. The balloons at the edges of the field were the first ones to deflate and go down. So we decided it was late enough for us and we headed out… and of course got stuck in massive traffic with everyone else who decided to head out too. Oh well. We stopped to get gas on the way home and I snapped this photo b/c Summy was the only one of the girls still awake🙂
Our original plan was that all 5 of us were going to go to the Liftoff on Sun AM. However, when the alarm went off at 5 am, Chris vetoed that plan and said he’d rather sleep in. So I got dressed and then woke S&D up to see if they still wanted to go with me or if they wanted to keep on sleeping. Both of them, surprisingly, got right out of bed and got dressed and we were out of the house by 5:45 am! Amazing. We got to the parking area and were walking to the fields by a little after 6 am. Liftoff was at 7 am but I wanted to have enough time to get some food and see all the morning activities. This event did NOT disappoint! It was well worth getting up before the crack ‘o dawn to see this ! As we were getting in the minivan at 5:45 am, Kota asked me “Is it the middle of the night?”🙂 I told her “No, it’s just super early morning” and then showed them how you could see that the sky was starting to get brighter in the east but it was still super dark in the west. So they were enjoying watching the eastern sky brighten as we were driving. They were VERY concerned that it was getting so light and that we might miss the balloons take off. I assured them that, no, we won’t miss the balloons. We are PLENTY early today! We got some donuts for breakfast and a breakfast burrito for me and sat on our blanket eating our food while watching Pikes Peak get brighter and brighter as the sun rose.
At 7 am they had the “introduction” announcements again and played the national anthem and then the Pepsi balloon started filling up 1st b/c it was going to be the “chase” balloon. The announcer told the crowd what the “chase balloon” was- it goes up 1st and then the other balloons attempt to “chase” it through the sky. I guess it gives the balloon pilots a target or something?!? Who knows. Anyway, the announcer was cool to listen to (I don’t remember Albuquerque having an announcer but maybe it was too large of an area to be able to hear it well? Or maybe there was 1 and I just can’t remember it b/c it was 20 YEARS AGO!) b/c he was giving a bunch of details about balloon pilots (they’re certified pilots but are only certified for visual navigation and can only fly during daylight hours) and the balloons and such. The girls, of course, weren’t listening to the announcer but they were SO excited about all the balloons inflating and going up around them that it was just so awesome to watch and be there with them to experience it! I wish I could’ve had Chris’ GoPro on my head or chest the entire time to get a running video of their excitement level!!!
The girls w/ the Pepsi balloon:
And we have LIFT OFF! The entire crowd (including the girls and me) cheered when it took off🙂
And then the first “wave” of balloons started filling up and taking off. The announcer said there were 68 balloons there that AM and half of them would go off in wave 1. Then the heart balloon was the 2nd chase balloon and the 2nd wave of balloons would chase that one. So it was about an hour and a half of non-stop balloon inflation and take off action. SO COOL! Again, flashing back to my 1996 Balloon Fiesta experience, we were there for liftoff 1 or 2 mornings but I really don’t remember it being as exciting as it was on Sunday. Maybe b/c I was 21 and there with a bunch of other 20-somethings vs. being there with a 7 and 4 yr old who were just beside themselves with excitement?!? Anyway, back to Sun AM… SO MANY balloons to watch and cheer for as they lifted off. Since we were able to be in and amongst all the balloons it was hard to get a good photo showing all the balloons surrounding us. I took a video where I spun around in a circle showing all the balloons around us🙂 I asked the girls if they wanted to head over to a little hill (where we watched the balloon glow from Sat night) to get a better “over all” view of the balloons but they said no, they’d rather stay in the thick ‘o the action🙂 As all the balloons starting heading into the sky, Kota was just loving looking up and seeing them all above her:
I took 1 photo where I was able to capture 5 balloons in my viewfinder- the black and yellow balloons look like they were very close to each other but really the yellow 1 was higher/above the black one:
I actually took so many photos that AM that I filled my entire phone’s memory with photos and couldn’t take any more photos🙂
A selfie of me and the girls w/ the piggy balloon and the “Flounder” balloon (as Kota called it) in the sky above us:
And then a great one of the girls hugging each other w/ the bumble bee balloon in the sky behind them (they loved the bumble bee balloon!):
And another great hugging photo w/ a balloon being inflated behind them:
Each time a balloon was about to take off a “lift off official” would come and clear the area in front of the balloon by blowing their whistle (they were also wearing black/white striped shirts like referees to make them stand out from the crowd) and that was your auditory clue that a balloon near you was about to take off and everyone would kinda turn and watch that particular balloon take off and cheer for them. It was a very fun and festive atmosphere all morning! We were watching this balloon inflate and I got a fun photo of the flames. The girls didn’t like being too close to the balloon when the flames started b/c they thought it was too hot!
And then the “Old Lady in a Shoe” balloon- we missed seeing this balloon on Sat night b/c the wind had already kicked up by the time we got over to that part of the field. So the girls wanted to be sure to see it Sun AM. This balloon was having a heck of a time inflating! It never did actually fly but it hovered for a little bit and then they landed and deflated the balloon. It sure did entertain the crowds though!
And, lastly, the girls wanted to know when the sun balloon was going to take off. We had seen the trailer there in the AM but they never took the balloon out of the trailer. So we went over and asked 1 of the crew members if they could tell us when it was going to take off. Unfortunately, they didn’t know if it was going to be able to take off at all b/c of the winds and the shape of the balloon. I didn’t get a picture of it inflated (it did eventually inflate but it never flew) b/c my camera was already full by then- darnit! But here’s an image I found on the web of it:
This was a BIG balloon! I mean huge. It’s “name” is Sunny Boy (all the balloons have names). You can see from the photo above how big the balloon is compared to the basket below it. Anyway, the crew member told us that the winds report was saying that the winds at higher altitudes were quite gusty and b/c of the shape of this balloon, the pilot was being cautious and not wanting this balloon to get pushed around by winds b/c I guess bad things could happen with such an oddly shaped balloon. So we got a little lesson on winds and balloons. We watched the remainder of the balloons take off and saw a couple come back and land- here’s a photo of the heart balloon landing back near the field. If you look past/over the white Suburban and trailer, you can see the heart balloon starting to deflate:
Watching the balloons flight patterns was pretty fun (for me- the girls, of course, couldn’t have cared less about that stuff). You would see them take off and head southeast and then start to rise in altitude and then catch a wind that would then take them north. And then they would descend back into the winds that would take them southeast again and head back towards the festival fields. Not ALL the balloons followed this path but I would say the majority of them did- so you got to see the balloons twice🙂 Anyway, enough about balloons. Suffice it to say that we had an awesome time and we were heading home by about 9:30 am.
I got a shower and then ran to Target w/ the girls to get diapers (Chris needed a break from Summy b/c she was being her usual self and S&D just wanted to go to the store w/ me (they were probably hoping to get a toy or something- they didn’t!)) and then it was time for lunch and then time to get in the car and head to Boulder. My friend Naveen had emailed me earlier in the week and said that the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team was in Boulder playing the Big Ten/PAC 12 Challenge and did we want to go to the game w/ him? Penn State played CU Sat night at 7 pm but that was too late for our bedtime schedule- it’s 1 1/2 hrs to get up to Boulder from the Springs. And then they played Stanford on Sun @3 pm. That was WAY more in line w/ our bedtime schedule so we told Naveen, sure, we’d love to go. So we met him at the Coors Event Center in Boulder where the volleyball team plays at 2:30 pm. It wasn’t super crowded since CU wasn’t playing but that was nice b/c we had lots of room to spread out and the girls not bother anyone. The arena was nice b/c it was pretty open and I could still see the match when I went up to the top to let the girls run around when they got too antsy sitting in the seats. But, first, a photo of me and the girls and Naveen:
We could’ve sat much closer to the court but, again, we didn’t want the girls to bug anyone. And that would’ve been just that many more steps we would’ve had to walk up when the girls said they had to go pee or wanted to move around. Summer took an instant liking to Naveen! I was sitting next to Naveen and Summy walked past me and stood next to him just smiling up at him and then reached her arms up to him for him to pick her up. It was the cutest stinkin’ thing! For being such a PITA, Summy can definitely be cute when she wants to be!!
The girls got antsy after about an hour. Chris took S&D and went to get a snack in between sets 2 and 3. And then I was up at the top of the bleachers w/ them during the entire 3rd set. I watched the game as much as I could while they ran laps. Unfortunately, PSU lost to Stanford 3-0😦 Here’s what my view was like for the entire 3rd set- and that blur in the background behind Summy’s head is either S or D running along the bleachers🙂
We said bye to Naveen (he only lives about 20 min away from Boulder) and were leaving by about 5:15 pm. We didn’t hit any traffic so we just headed straight home (vs stopping for dinner somewhere) and picked up pizza for dinner and then hustled them all into bed ASAP b/c no one had slept on the way home. They had all fallen asleep on the ride up there for pretty much the entire time! Another fun day!
We “slept in” today (7:30am) and then ended up getting a late start for our hike. Our original destination was a trail called Seven Bridges but when we got there the parking lot was so crowded and crazy we said screw it and left. But as we were driving out of North Cheyenne Canyon we passed a trailhead for Mt. Cutler and Mt. Muscoco and found a parking spot there. So we pulled in and decided to try out this trail and see what it was like. The map at the trailhead said it was 1.1 miles to the top of Mt. Cutler (elevation 7200 ft w/ a lookout area at 7050 ft- so a 200 ft elevation loss which we wold have to hike back up) and 2.3 miles to the top of Mt. Muscoco (elevation 8000 ft). So we decided to try Mt. Cutler and this trail didn’t disappoint! It was relatively steep for the girls and there was definitely some whining going on at the beginning of the hike but by the end of it, the girls agreed that it was a great hike and they did, indeed have fun. Success! A photo of the girls next to a tree w/ some gnarly roots:
And then we came up to a turn in the trail and got our first pretty view of the Springs down below us. A nice couple offered to take our picture for us:
There were definitely parts of this trail that were a little steep and had a couple rockslide areas that we had to cross and parts that made me nervous hiking w/ the girls (fear that they’d fall off the side of the mountain!) but they did great and we had fun. A random pretty view of the mountains at 1 point on the trail- doesn’t it look like we could just topple backwards at any moment and fall off the side of the mountain?
And then a panoramic shot Chris took:
And a photo of Chris and the girls hiking up the trail- this part wasn’t super steep or scary- I just thought it was pretty:
And then we came around a corner and low and behold- we could see Seven Falls which is in the canyon next to the one where we were parked. So cool! This photo doesn’t show it too well but if you look closely sort of above Skylar’s head you can barely see it🙂
A zoomed in photo-you can see the falls in the middle of the photo and the Eagles Nest viewing platform to the left side:
And then we made it to the top of Mt. Cutler and ate our sandwiches for lunch. Poor Summy didn’t even get to get out of the carrier… we feared she would run straight for the edge of the mountain and we’d have to do nothing but chase her around.
And then a view of the girls sitting on the bench at the top of Mt. Cutler:
After eating lunch we headed down from the summit and down to the lookout point 200 ft below. It was a pretty steep and gravelly trail to get there but, again, the girls did great! It was pretty windy at the lookout point but there were great views of The Broadmoor and the entire city:
And, of course, Kota found some dirt to play in🙂
Chris had taken off his hat to let his head dry out in the wind and Summy was enthralled w/ playing w/ his hair- too funny🙂
And another view looking west:
And a selfie of us coming down the trail from the lookout point- you had to go down and then back up to get back to the main trail:
As we were going back up we found some big quartz-looking rocks that I hadn’t noticed on our way up to the lookout point. The girls liked them b/c they said they looked like crystals- and a view of the city in the background:
When we got back up to the the main trail we rested for a bit and enjoyed our “treats” that we had brought for the girls- gummies! Summy loves her gummies!
This is a photo I took of Chris and the girls crossing 1 of the rock slide areas of the trail. You can sorta see how narrow the trail is and how it pretty much just drops off on the downhill side. Yikes! But, again, the girls did great and we had no mishaps.
Taking a quick break on a neat tree with cool roots- I had to lift both girls up on the root to be able to sit (their feet are dangling):
And 1 last photo of the girls hiking back down the trail back to the car- what a great hike! Chris said we ended up going almost 4 miles with the hike out to the lookout point and back. Great job girls!
We got home by 2:30-ish and I attempted to put Summy down for a nap at 3 pm. By 3:45 pm I gave up b/c she just wasn’t sleeping (altho I think I did manage to fall asleep in the chair for a bit) and we headed outside to play in the water before dinner:
And now my laundry is done (I have clean underwear- yay!) and my marathon post is done and I’m going to bed! Happy Labor Day everyone!