In Love with Colorado

We arrived safely back to Des Moines yesterday after spending the last 10 days in Colorado, one of our favorite states.  Although we expected this morning’s run in Des Moines to be easier without the higher altitudes of Colorado, it was every bit as challenging to extract enough oxygen from the thick sauna-like Iowa air! The humidity must have been close to 100% even at 6AM, because it started raining shortly after we finished the run.  Yuck! I’m planning to  use my recent experience of clean Colorado mountain air as imagery to help me cope (in other words, dissociate) while running in Iowa through the rest of August.

Recently, our family agreed that we would try to get everyone together once a year at a non-Christmas time, and that we would take turns hosting. It was Nick and Jess’s turn this year. They decided to host the family at Hermit’s Hollow, a campground in Colorado near Estes Park. We all agreed that the three sites they picked (narrowed down to two sites when it became clear that Kim&Paul we not going to make it), were the best sites in the entire campground, and in fact, the best sites we had ever camped on. The sites were quiet, remote, and allowed the little ones a great deal of freedom to play in the dirt and create a “home” with lots of little “rooms” on an adjoining rock-face which could be easily seen/supervised from where adults hung around.  It was amazing to see what they created…..even a kitchen sink with standing rain water in it.

There was no electricity or running water in the park, but no-one seemed to mind. Water was available at the base of the mountain at the camp entrance (5 minute drive down a winding dirt road), and showers were available for a low fee in Estes Park. I think everyone took one shower during the 5 days we camped. From Kristin’s report, it was quite a scream-fest, during the Kuiper/R&H VanderKwaak shower time. Apparently the entire Kuiper family stood in one stall, whileReuben&Heidi and their kids were in the next stall, for a 6 minute/$2 shower. Little people apparently don’t like their hair washed. Nick&Jess and Lloyd&I arrived afterwards, so missed all the noise.

Nick&Jess provided all the food for everyone during the whole 5 days. The food was AMAZING! No ordinary camping food-we pretty much ate gourmet the whole time. Nick&Jess are amazing cooks. For one of the meals, they served brisket made by the brisket-king of Colorado (Jess’ Dad). It was so delicious and remeniscent of when he made his brisket recipe at Nick&Jess’s wedding several years ago.

Our hosts: Nick and Jess with Denali. Denali loved playing with Emma, Claire, Eden, Levi and Harper. At times, he seemed to forget he was a dog!

Since Reuben&Heidi and their kids had spent the week prior with Nick&Jess in Denver, Eden and Harper were already quite attached to Denali.

Harper doing his morning routine

On one of the days, we drove from Hermit's Hollow over Trail Ridge pass to Grand Lake, in order to "case-out" what Reuben&Heidi would be biking soon. Yikes! The drive was what Lloyd calls a "white-knuckle" drive. Views were stunning. The climb was daunting-we could hardly imagine Reuben&Heidi biking on such a steep road. There was plenty of snow to see along the way. Here's Kristin&Curt, Emma, Claire and Levi on snow.

Throwing snowballs was great fun. Watch out for Claire!

On the way back to Hermit's Hollow, we saw a beautiful rainbow.

As we continued to decend down the pass, the single rainbow morphed to a double rainbow. It was quite a sight, and made for some interesting conversations with little ones.

On one occasion, Lloyd and I stayed back at camp to do finger-painting with E&C&E&L&H while the rest of the adults went for a hike. We heard them call from above, and here's what we could see from camp.


No vacation would be complete without ice-cream. Here we are on one of the evenings in downtown Estes Park.

Emma, Claire and Eden enjoying their ice-cream. We missed you, Marley!

Emma, who will be turning 7 in a few days!


Ice-cream night was on the eve of Reuben & Heidi's big trek up Trail Ridge Pass.

Levi can flash quite a smile whenever a camera gets close!


By Friday, the family was dispersed. Kristin&Curt took off for an afternoon in Boulder and then on to Denver to spend a few days with Nick&Jess, who returned directly to Denver to unpack their camping gear and two huge coolers that were full of left-over food. Well, Nick didn’t exactly return directly to Denver, cuz he first biked up Trail Ridge pass to the summit and back. Since Reuben & Heidi started up this pass early Friday morning, Nick decided to find them along the way up, and once again, along the way back. Interesting enough, Lloyd and I (who were too chicken to bike the pass) drove up the pass only to discover Reuben&Heidi (still on their way UP) and Nick (on his way DOWN) at the same rest area. We pulled over and savored a few minutes of family time before everyone went their seperate ways. We drove on up, ahead of Reuben&Heidi, to a rest area at least half-way to the summit, and waited for Reuben&Heidi to appear.

Here's Lloyd, waiting in comfort

And here's Reuben&Heidi arriving to the rest area in not-so-much-comfort. We have such high admiration for their strength and courage!

While they rested, Lloyd and I enjoyed some time with Eden and Harper

Lots of elk in the area


For those of you who know the tradition, this pic of Lloyd and Harper is a keeper for Lloyd's desk at ChildServe.

After this rest break, Reuben & Heidi continued on up the pass. They summited (CONGRATS!!!!!!!!) and made their way on down to Timber Creek campground where Lloyd and I had already found two campsites. By the time they arrived to Timber Creek, Lloyd and I had already left for Grand Lake by car. We parked our car there, and returned to Timber Creek on bike, eager to join Reuben & Heidi for a few days of bike/camping. We left our camera in the car, so no more pics. We can say, however, that we had a wonderful time of bike/camping with them. We’re still fine-tuning how to carry all our gear with road bikes, and are wondering if some new bikes might be on the horizon.  I think we’re hooked with biking and also with Colorado!

2 responses to “In Love with Colorado”

  1. thanks for posting all these pics! it was a wonderful time–great hearing your trip perspective :)

  2. Oh Wow! Looked so beautiful. Definately makes me re think our decision :) I am so glad you guys all had such a great time.

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