October Festive Family To-do List

Haha that picture brings back memories of last fall. My oh my was I ready to meet Cecilia and I can’t believe how much life has changed from one year ago. I really thought she was going to be born on October 28th, even though her due date was November 1. I was wrong! She was born on November 10th.

As she gets closer to her big 1 year old birthday, our little adventures are becoming more and more fun. September was a busy month for us.  My favorite activity was picking apples with Cecilia! I’m planning to make this an annual tradition.

Now that October is just a couple days away, I’m making a festive family to-do list:

  • Celebrate our German heritage –  Oktoberfest
  • Go to a pumpkin patch
  • Make something pumpkin-y
  • Plant mums on our front porch
  • Dress up for Halloween
  • Enjoy the changing leaves
  • Go to homecoming parade
  • Have a bonfire
  • Make a family photo book for Cecy to help her remember our out-of-town family
Am I missing anything?
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Feeding Buffalo in Kansas City

This weekend Cecy and I met some friends at the Native Hooved Animal Enclosure in Fleming Park. We brought our apples and carrots to feed to the buffalo and elk who roam the 110 acre fenced in area. We loved getting so close to the massive animals.

Fleming Park is the largest park in Jackson County and I got lost in it for 30 minutes trying to find the buffalo. I did some research for the next time we visit. I couldn’t find an exact address, but for those who are good with maps, I found this one. For those who rely on GPS (me!), I noticed that Missouri Town is very close and I found an address for that park attraction: 8010 E. Park Road.  Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64064.

Into the Wild Basin

A less busy, more remote area of Rocky Mountain National Park is appropriately named the Wild Basin. We almost drove right past the entrance! Once you turn in, the road becomes more narrow and leads to dirt roads with limited parking.

On our first trip to the Wild Basin, our goal was mainly to scout out the area. We headed to the Wild Basin Trailhead and walked .3 miles to Copeland Falls. This picture of Cecy with her Daddy melts my heart.

Copeland Falls
Copeland Falls

We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed this lower elevation walk, so we came back on our next trip. On our second excursion, we went back to Copeland Falls and on to Calypso Cascades (1.8 miles from TH) then Ouzel Falls (2.7 miles from TH).

The trail follows a scenic mountain stream that you cross over several times. When we were there (early September 2015) the bridge at Ouzel Falls that leads to Ouzel Lake was wiped out from flooding. A crew was there working to rebuild.

Calypso Cascades
Calypso Cascades
Ouzel Falls
Ouzel Falls
bridge construction
bridge construction

We hiked a little off trail to find a better view of Ouzel Falls. My husband hiked an additional .2 miles (somewhat technical/not baby friendly) to the top of the falls and waved back down at Cecy and me as we played near the falls. I think Cecy really enjoyed the rushing sound of the falls and the soft mist that was coming off of it.

Relaxing Stroll on Lily Lake

Beautiful Lily Lake is right across the street from Twin Sisters trailhead on highway 7. A flat .8 mile trail circles the lake. This is an easier walk for anyone who struggles with strenuous terrain. Several benches are available offering an opportunity to rest and soak in the gorgeous views. We enjoyed showing Cecy the little ducks on the lake and the pretty wild flowers that surround it.  This is a spot I expect to return to again and again, especially when Cecy starts walking. She took a few cautious steps on her own yesterday – so that might be soon!

Ducks
Baby Duck with Her Momma
Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake
Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake

Twin Sisters Peaks

A couple of months after our wedding my husband brought me to Estes Park, CO. The first hike we went on was Twin Sisters Peaks. When we made it to the top, I looked over at the surrounding mountains in awe and instantly feel in love with the area.

Newlyweds - Mountain Love
Newlyweds – Mountain Love

Fast forward three years and we hiked the same mountain plus a baby and a sister-in-law!

Me and my mountain baby
Me and my mountain munchkin

I was excited to share this summit hike with my little one, but next time we will probably leave her home with a babysitter. My husband carried Cecy, but that meant I also carried a lot of weight in my pack so the three of us would have enough water, snacks and gear. Baby gear = diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hat, change of clothes … we could have over-packed!?

We were slowly chugging up the mountain with extra weight on our backs when we ran into the landslide area about 1.5 miles in. We navigated over loose rocks and a steeper slope.

Landslide Damage
Landslide Damage

Once we crossed, we found that the landslide wiped out several switch backs so we had to make it up three steep vertical climbs that were approximately 20-25 yards each. This was the part that I was most concerned about for Cecy even though my husband was very careful.

Despite the new challenges, this is such a fun hike and the views of Longs Peak from the top are truly amazing. This was my sister-in-law’s first summit hike which was very cool to share with her too.

Round trip is about 7 miles reaching 11,413 ft of elevation on the West Summit, a gain of 2,253 ft. The East Summit is slightly higher, but we decided to shorten the trip this time by going up just one side.

View from the top
View from the top

What I’m (Constantly) Reading

We are heading back to Colorado in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait. Between trips I day dream about waking up to mountain vistas and research hikes. My go-to hiking resource is “Rocky Mountain National Park, The Complete Hiking Guide” by Lisa Foster.

I bought this guide a couple of years ago as a gift for my husband at Kind Coffee, our can’t-miss coffee shop in Estes Park, CO. My favorite part of the book is the ‘destination chart’ in the appendix. Foster lists basically every destination in RMNP and it’s distance, trailhead, elevation starting point, elevation gain, and rating (grade, class and snow/ice). When we are hiking with our 10 month old, I’ve been looking for hikes that are 6 miles or less round trip and have a low grade and class rating.  Foster also put together a helpful list of over 50 attractions in the book’s index under “family-friendly hiking destinations”.

Sadly, a week after I bought the guide downtown Estes Park and much of the surrounding area was hit by a devastating flood. Even though the town did an amazing job rebuilding, we’ve seen major changes in trails including one of our favorites, Twin Sisters Peak. I’ll write about our adventure with navigating the landslide damage soon!

As a supplement to the guide, we also like to check out sites like Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails.com.

Apple Orchard Outing in Kansas City

Last week Cecy and I went apple picking at Cider Hill Family Orchard located at 3341 N. 139 Street
Kansas City, KS 66109. I can’t stop talking about how much fun we had there. The people who work at the orchard are  nice and helpful. We decided to pick a peck bag which is about 10 pounds of apples and costs $8.50. Cecy loved the Apple Wagon that picks you up and drops you off by the type of apples you want to pick. They have 18 different types of apples in the orchard. When you are done, you get back in the wagon, bring your bag back to the store and pay for them there. You can also grab some apple doughnuts, apple cider slushes or other goodies in the store and enjoy them on their picnic tables.

Apple Wagon
Apple Wagon

The orchards were pretty and the apples were tasty!  10 pounds of apples is a lot of apples. Besides munching on them and adding them to salads, we made a caramel apple pie which was delicious. Here is the recipe I used from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman.

Caramel Apple Pie
Caramel Apple Pie
An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day
Picking Apples
Picking Apples