Monday, August 17, 2009


Subtitle: Terriblific: A Trip with a Toddler!!!

We recently returned from vacation in Estes Park, CO. We had a grand time with the family. Very few families can spend an entire week together and be itching for more but the Sides know how to do it. Here's a vacation rundown:

Day One: Travel
Anna experienced her first plane ride. She handled it beautifully. I raged World War III in my head as only a fearful flyer can do. Not surprisingly, I survived both flights and arrived gratefully in Denver. The only funny part of the flights was the last-minute (literally as the plane started moving) seat change by moi due to having too many people in a row (Emily, Molly, Maria, Anna, and some confused-looking stranger). So I switched to sit next to Ben. Here was the NEW seat order: Ben (now terrified since ReRe moved next to him and Granny moved away, demanding to have the window shut and working up to crying) Maria (biting the inside of her cheek to stay calm while wrestling with Anna), Anna, and the poor teenager who landed next to us. Across the aisle: the same confused-looking stranger, Granny (keeping a sympathetic eye on me), and Emily and Molly (ignoring us just grateful we're not them). We got the rental van (a tripped-out "Vacation Van" that had more bells and whistles than a luxury limo) after riding the bus to the wrong rental place. We drove to Boulder and had a wonderful visit with Ken and Paula Ball. We also got to meet their darling grandson and the kids had a wonderful evening together. After fighting to stay up long enough to see the driver's safe arrival, I sprinted upstairs and off to bed. Poor Curt had a lo-ong car ride but managed to have some fun along the way.

Here's pics from the road crew of Russell cycle surfing on the trailer:

The whole crew at the Ball's house:

Day Two: We had a relaxing morning in Boulder and shopped on Pearl Street in the afternoon while Emily and Aaron and their crew drove on to Estes Park.

Here's a cute pic of Anna playing on Pearl Street:

Day Three: Toddler meltdown!
We had a relaxing morning in the condo. Here are pics of Molly and Anna hanging out, which they did beautifully all week:

Then, after a successful nap (a miracle whenever Anna is away from home) we all loaded up and drove into Rocky Mountain National Park. We unloaded and reloaded onto a bus to go up to the trailheads and do some serious hiking. Anna was fussing as soon as we got on the bus. The fuss quickly turned into a fit, which turned into a full-blown screaming tantrum. The moms out there know the kind. The kind that make you feel utterly clueless and helpless and generally freaked out. The passengers on the bus were sympathetic for the first 15 minutes, but then they began to give me THE LOOK. Anna was doing the arched back, howling move attempting to wiggle onto the floor to continue her fit and one lady had the nerve to say, "there's room on the floor." Yea right lady. I'm going to let my kid continue her demon-possession writhing and screaming on the dirty bus floor so a sudden stop will send her flying. You can guess the message I was sending that lady in my head ("come closer... closer"...SMACK!)

Finally I'd had enough. I couldn't help but think continuing to spiral up in altitude on the bus was making it worse so I got off at the next stop, tears in my eyes. Curt and Granny (in a last minute, desperate request from me) and I jumped off the bus, much to the confusion of the rest of the family, as this was not our bus stop.

After ANOTHER 15 minutes of crying at the bus stop and refusing to drink water, Anna finally settled down and Granny suggested Curt and I take her on a short hike, as this is what we came to do in the first place. After no more than 7 mins of hiking, we miraculously found the rest of the fam at a fork in the trail and continued on what turned out to be a great hike. Here is a picture of the waterfall we ended up at:

Oh but the drama was not quite over. The whole time, due to a miscommunication, poor Granny had NO idea if we were returning to the trail head or what the rest of the fam was doing. So she fretted in the wind while the rest of us enjoyed the beauty of God's creation.
Here are some pics from the hike. Anna is, as you can see - perfectly fine but a wee bit tired!


Day Four: National Lampoons Mountain Vacation
The men left early for a wonderful hike up Twin Sister (for the non-mountainous folk, that is the name of a mountain). Here are some pics of their hike!

The trail up:


A successful descent by Grandpa/Dad/Ron.

Meanwhile, Granny, Emily and I took the kids shopping in downtown Estes Park. Ben was...not really into it and the other kiddos shortly agreed. We did get to see glass being blown into glass beads. Very cool!, but that's beside the point.
Then, it was a quick nap, and we loaded/crammed into the vehicles and took the "scenic route" to the Georgetown Railway - for the sole purpose of seeing Ben's shining face. TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER we peel ourselves out of the vans 45 minutes late for the last train of the day. We wandered around the old train cars for a while and headed off for another hour drive to Denver to eat at Casa Bonita (bad all-you-can-eat Mexican food with a cliff diving show and other such crazy adventures), Curt and Maria's trip activity pick. Well. Don't go to Casa Bonita with young children. Just don't. Not only did they seat us BEHIND the waterfall so we saw NONE of the shows and our food tasted and smelled damp, Ben started crying almost immediately when he saw a man in a gorilla suit running around. Anna cratered shortly after. Molly, always pleasant, just looked confused. Jacob, the only kid old enough to appreciate it shrugged and said it was "ok". On the way out, I discovered I had left Anna's sippy cup on the table and ran back in, only to find that the busser had cleared it and no one saw where it went. This made me tear up. A SIPPY CUP. That's what kind of afternoon it was.

Day Five: Off to see the Maples!
We spent the day with Andrea (college roomie) and Brian Maples (college neighbor) and their awesome two kids. Unfortunately, only Andrea took pics so I can't prove it, but we had a good time hanging out. Anna began to adjust to sleeping anywhere, anytime and slept in Curt's arms at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think that tickled him. She hasn't snuggled that long with him in a LONG time.

Day Six: Hiking and Relaxing:
Anna finally got the hang of hiking, as you can see from these pis.

Then Curt spent the afternoon fishing and Anna and I spent the afternoon relaxing in the condo, as I REFUSED to go ANYWHERE! Poor Curt hurt his leg jumping over a stream which led to a VERY painful 14 hour drive home the next day in dad's little Saturn VUE. But Anna and I had the time of our lives. We played tickle-chase to every corner of that condo all by ourselves. We also played soccer so hard outside she fell and covered her tongue in gravel and didn't even cry. We also did some serious water balloon bursting and pine cone stompin, as you can see from this video:

Dad and Russell spent the day motorcycling. Jacob and Mom spent the day shopping. Emily and her gang went back to the Georgetown Railway for train ride: take two.

Day Seven: Maria Conquers Planes Again
After nearly losing Ben's new toy train engine on the shuttle (they sent an empty shuttle back JUST to bring it back), we arrived in time for two successful flights back to St. Louis and as an added bonus, added Aaron as a travel companion. We missed Colorado already but wanted our own beds so bad we could taste it.

Here is the amazing scenery from our condo:

And if THAT wasn't enough, here is a quick video:


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