We realized then how fortunate we had been to have such great views of the Tetons for our stay, as they were quite hidden by the smoke. So sad and crazy how the fires impact so much.
After hugging David goodbye we hopped in the car and headed east. We drove across the whole southern border of Wyoming, to Cheyenne, stopping at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere that ended up being a stop along the Oregon Trail! We freaked out at this, as mom had bought Hailey a choose your own adventure Oregon trail book, which got us all hooked on the time period.
Before crossing the border, into Colorado we stopped in the little town of Laramie for dinner, and were pleasantly surprised by the delicious Thai food we found at a little spot called Anong! With full stomachs, we drove the remaining hour or so to our hotel just outside Boulder and called it a night, knowing we’d have a full next day.
We woke up the next morning, packed up, got in the car and drove the 20 minutes into Boulder. The kids were not happy about being woken up and were dragging, but they rallied with the mention of breakfast. Our first stop was The Buff, a highly recommended breakfast spot. We sat outside and I enjoyed my veggie and egg skillet and hot tea.
Mom had never been to Boulder before (David and I spent a day there in 2016 and I apparently I had forgotten that I have eaten at Snooze, another very popular breakfast rec). So we drove the adorable streets up to the Chautauqua Park, then through campus to see sororities in the rush process, then to see then downtown streets. After a taste of Boulder, we drove on towards Rocky Mountain National Park.
Initially on our way east across the country, we carefully planned each stay and stop. On the way home, we were totally winging it. I’m talking making hotel reservations and hour before we arrived kind of winging it. So we really didn’t have a plan for Rocky Mountain National Park, but since it was only an hour away, we decided to go.
Our lack of planning was met with the surprise that right now they are requiring timed entry passes that you can buy online. Some were available for 1:00 PM on, but we couldn’t hang out that long, so we stopped by the Visitor Center, snapped a picture at the sign, and explored the Estes Park area (so beautiful!), while mentally adding Rocky Mountain National Park to our “must return to” list.
After that we took off south towards Denver. Along the way Mom and the girls pranked me with fake bullet hole stickers that cling to glass windows that she had secretly bought them with their cap guns. They girls were goofing off and quietly put the stickers on their windows. When I looked back I thought they had cracked my mom’s car windows and I freaked out! …until they all burst out laughing. I was not amused …. 😉
As we approached Denver we were all getting hungry. When I saw a True Foods Kitchen was tucked inside the city, I made the executive decision to give it a try. I’m a fan of Dr. Andrew Weil, and I had been wanting to try his real food restaurant for some time.
First of all, the restaurant space was beautiful! With a natural aesthetic it felt fresh and bright; I felt healthier for just stepping inside; ha! The wait was short, and soon we were led to a back corner table where mom and I ordered a Bloody Mary and the kids got watermelon lemonade.
We ordered the hummus appetizer for the table, which came with a thin pita bread that we all devoured. Kaitlyn ordered grilled cheese and tomato soup, which came with rainbow carrots and hummus. Hailey, mom, and I split the grass-fed burger with kale salad and the teriyaki quinoa bowl. It was all SO so delicious. I think I happily squealed throughout the meal and at the end of it, mom surprised me with a souvenir all my own- the True Food Kitchen Cookbook! I can not wait to start trying the recipes.
Happily satiated, we loaded back in the car and continued south towards Colorado Springs. We had one more stop we wanted to make- Garden of the Gods. This nature center is free and open everyday. We didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded like the perfect spot to get out of the car and stretch our feet.
We arrived in the late afternoon and it felt wonderful outside. We wandered into the red rocks and it was such a beautiful and peaceful space. The girls could climb around on rocks and we even saw a couple deer close up, that clearly were not bothered by the crowd of people standing around snapping pictures of them. It was a great way to get some energy out at the end of the day!
We left in the evening and were ready to check into our Colorado Springs hotel. We opted for a suite, which ended up being huge! Tired, we decided to order pizza to the room so we could all shower and relax.
It was the right choice and we all appreciated some downtime. Plus between the pull out sofa, pizza, and Despicable Me 2 on the TV, it might have just been the girls favorite night of the whole trip 😜