Monday, August 19, 2013

Road Warrior Mountain Bound Magees

For those of you who are familiar with Seinfeld you may remember the, “Summer of George” episode. In the episode the character George finds out his severance package from his job is enough to allow him to take the whole summer off. He decides he’s going to become very active and do all the things he’s always wanted to do. Instead of becoming active though as he’d planned he becomes very lazy. Never changing out of his pajamas, he stops going over to his friend’s houses and calls them instead to see what was going on and makes them come visit him. I can relate a lot to George Costanza. My maternity leave was from March through June and I had grand plans of this being the, “Summer of Natalie.” I was excited of the prospect of being off work and being able to do what I wanted. In my mind I would hike a lot of 14,000 foot peaks, I would frame photos and make scrapbooks, I’d get lots of work outs in and potentially have dinner ready for my husband every night when he got home from work. Alas my “Summer of Natalie” went about like the “Summer of George.” I stayed home in my robe, barely showering on most days, I had friends come to visit me and I called, texted or facebook’d to keep in touch. Such is the glamorous first three months of life with an infant.

Those that know me best however, know I am not one to stay at home very long. After a hiatus I found myself back in the mountains, back to flying and teaching and of course back to traveling. While the Magee’s enjoy traveling far and abroad we have found ourselves taking more “stay-cations” as of late and enjoying our home state. If you have never taken a stay-cation I highly recommend it especially when living in a state as beautiful as Colorado.

Two weeks ago I had my mom fly out with the intentions of hiking Castle and Conundrum Peak with Chad. Once she arrived in town we packed up the car and headed west towards Aspen. We have gotten pretty good about traveling with Charlotte but what you come to realize is that with a baby things become infinitely more annoying. Sitting in traffic is more infuriating because that’s longer time for the baby to be in the car. You have to prepare with bottles to feed them when they awake and plan for stops to change diapers. In short, a four hour car ride now takes five or six. There were many factors that kept us from hiking those mountains that weekend as I had planned including running out of break fluid and Chad forgetting his hiking boots. No matter, we had a hotel in Carbondale and we were set to enjoy the weekend. My mom has never been farther west than our house in Arvada so she got to see some parts of the state she had never seen before. We enjoyed the Glenwood Hot Springs and the brewery there, we drove to Aspen and took the shuttle to the Maroon Bells, we ate lunch at a fantastic pizza dive bar and drove Independence Pass home. Chad made me realize that the important thing was not standing on top of a mountain but spending time with family. As he put it, “the mountains will always be there and will be the same…Charlotte won’t be.” Sometimes you can get summit fever before even stepping foot on a mountain.

The Maroon Bells are the most photographed mountains in North America
The weekend after this we spent five days up in the mountains again, this time in Steamboat. Unfortunately there are no close 14ers by (I checked) so the trip was all about relaxing, hot springs and a little light hiking. Every year since we moved in separate directions my sister and friends Lisa and Michelle (who are twins which we’ve known since high school) meet for a vacation in various cities. These adventures started out as girls trips and since we have all gotten married have expanded to include husbands. Michelle just had a baby in January and of course I have Charlotte so this year’s trip included babies as well. This is a chance for us all to get together, enjoy catching up and hopefully not fighting too much (as siblings often do). Steamboat was the pick because Lisa’s in-laws own a place there so it made for a nice trip where we had a free place to stay and everyone even had their own bedroom and bathroom. You can imagine 7 friends and two babies being in one condo might be a little tight but there was plenty of activities to do to keep everyone occupied from mountain biking to hot tubing. We tubed the Yampa one day, everyone took turns cooking dinner, we visited Strawberry Hot Springs and took a hike to Fish Water Falls. As far as ski towns go Steamboat is one of my favorites and has plenty of outdoors activities to enjoy without being insanely pricey. I highly recommend the Strawberry Hot Springs which are mineral springs so you do not smell like sulphur after soaking. After dark they are 18 and up because it is clothing optional but don’t worry there isn’t a light there to be found. Be sure and bring a flashlight to find your way around and your own towel. If you live in Denver and want to tube the Yampa I recommend bringing your own tubes as well because the places there charge about $18 to rent one which only includes one ride down the river.

 Before we knew it the weekend came to an end and it was time to head home. Chad and I drove separate since everyone else had to head to the airport and fly home. We decided to drive through Estes Park because of the construction on I70 and the fact we hate sitting in traffic. I highly recommend this as an alternative although it will cost $20 to enter the park (which is good for seven days admission afterwards). We started from the Winter Park side and drove through Estes which took us down to the I25 and 36 junction. On our drive we saw moose, elk, big horn sheep and deer as well as some amazing views of tundra and Longs peak. I will say, if you are a tourist driving through the park please don’t stop in the middle of the road to check out the wildlife or get out of your car. There are designated spots to pull off so take advantage of those. Nothing is more annoying because of a traffic jam due to an out of state license plate driver gawking at the wildlife. The temperature at the top of the pass was around 40 degrees I noted as we were driving and we were treated to some icy slush raining down on us.

Longs Peak
Traveling with an infant is never easy but a better alternative than staying at home on your couch for the first half of their life. You just have to remember that you are now on someone else’s schedule and not your own. Be sure to pack more diapers and outfits than you need and bring plenty of milk and bottles with you for the drive. Sometimes Charlotte would get upset because she just wanted out of her car seat so after a quick pit stop she was fine again. Once you realize that the journey is what is important, not the destination it makes it easier to relax and enjoy the sights along the way even if you must stop more often for your baby. Enjoy this time now while they are young to get out and do things because as they get older they are more alert and more prone to meltdowns! Traveling with Charlotte takes more planning and work but I look forward to sharing photos with her some day of all the adventures she joined us on….

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