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.

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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

Back in the Sunflower State

We are back home in Kansas and excited for some fall adventures here. Last week we headed to Grinter Sunflower Farm located at 24154 Stillwell Rd. Lawrence, KS 66044. (Lawrence is the home of college basketball powerhouse, KU and my amazing sister). The farm provided a fun, beautiful landscape to take pictures for Cecy’s 10 month birthday.

Not sure what to think of sunflowers?
Not sure what to think of sunflowers?

I think she was a little afraid of the sunflowers at first which is understandable because some are the size of her head. According to the Grinter’s blog, the sunflowers are fading fast and they are just about ready for harvest, so I’m glad we made it out there in time!

I’m a first time Mom, so things I’ll keep in mind for next year:

  1. Bring cash – we passed through a toll road on the way there. Also bring $1 donation in exchange for a sunflower to take home.
  2. Wear proper shoes! I wore cute sandals and got them very muddy and I slipped around. Next year we might go with cowboy boots because they’ll look cute in pictures and will be more practical.
  3. Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
  4. Bring a scissor or knife to cut the sunflower with. This year I tried to just break it off like a normal flower – basically I was wrestling a thick, prickly stalk that was taller than me with a baby in one arm and ended up with half the pedals on the ground and an angry baby.
  5. Plan ahead by checking the Grinter’s blog or Facebook page for prime sunflower season.
  6. Consider bringing a step-ladder to get a better angle of the field. They had a cart with hay on it for photo opportunities, but some people brought their own ladders which gave them options to take pictures in the middle of the field.
Sitting on cart
Sitting on cart

Baby Under Armour

Cecy has sensitive skin and riding in the carrier against her Dad’s back was making her little stomach break out in a rash because she’d get hot and sweaty. Now before we go on hikes I put a protective lotion like Aquaphor on her and then put her in a little pink Under Armour outfit I got at Scheels. I kind of felt silly buying Under Armour gear for my little one who can’t walk yet, but I’m telling you the breathable fabric helped so much. I think the key was getting a romper or onesie. I was afraid a shirt would ride up on her during hikes.

Under Armour Baby
Under Armour Baby

Here is a link to a similar outfit: Girls’ Infant Under Armour Kaleidostar Romper

Cecy’s first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

As this summer winds to an end, it’s fun to look back at all of the fun trips we’ve had. This summer started for us on May 30th at an elevation of 10,013 feet with panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park and a little bit of snow. We strapped our six month old daughter, Cecy, to my husband’s back via our Ergobaby and hiked a six mile round trip trail up and back down Deer Mountain.

Deer Mountain trailhead
Deer Mountain trailhead
Snow on Deer Mountain Trail
Snow on trail
Panoramic Views at the top
Panoramic Views at the top

We chose Deer Mountain for our first family adventure in Colorado because some of the higher altitude hikes were still covered in snow. There was some snow near the top of this trail too, but far less than in other areas of RMNP.

Cecy napped the whole way – how cute are her little feet hanging out of the carrier!? I didn’t have a clue what babies should wear on hikes, so I kept her in her pajamas. At least her little feet stayed warm, but I’ve since found better baby hiking apparel options which I’ll write about soon.

This was a fun early season hike and also a great way to celebrate my husband’s birthday!

Valencia Peak in California

When I think of hiking up mountains, I don’t normally think of seeing dolphins on the descent. Back in February we visited my brother who lives in Morro Bay, California and he took us to Montana De Oro State Park to climb up Valencia Peak which rises 1,347 feet. That doesn’t sound high if you are used to Colorado’s elevation, but we basically started right at sea level.

Valencia Peak with husband and baby
Valencia Peak with husband and baby
Ocean view trail
The trail is right on the ocean, gorgeous!

I was pretty proud of myself for chugging through the 3.7 miles! (roundtrip) I was also happy that Cecilia, who was only 3 months old, did so well strapped to my front in her Ergobaby carrier. When it got a little sunnier, we pulled up the hood to protect her head.

Yes, we had to change a diaper on the trail and she cried a little for milk towards the end, but hiking with my daughter was one of the things I was most excited for when I was pregnant.

The perfect weather, ocean views, my brother acting as an awesome ‘hike guide’, and spotting dolphins made Cecilia’s first hike pretty hard to beat!

Valencia Peak, Montana De Oro State Park, CA
Valencia Peak, Montana De Oro State Park, CA