Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welcome Baby Allen

June 25, 2013

I meant to blog much earlier than this, but better late than never I suppose!

Our son, Elijah, was born May 16, 2013 at 8:59 am, weighing in at 7lbs 5oz and 21 inches long.  It was the happiest moment of my life!  The delivery went smooth and our lives have been completely changed for the better since!

Elijah Lee Allen

Happy Family

Elijah had to spend an extra day in the nursery due to jaundice, but we are able to come home May 19, 2013.

We are such proud parents!  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and loving husband, and now to have a beautiful son in our lives.  I can't help but remind myself everyday that things happen for a reason, and God has a plan.

Sorry, I had a sappy moment... It happens a lot these days.  I am inclined to blame it on the hormones :)

Finally  home, May 19, 2013
Once at home we had so many visitors coming to see Elijah.

Grandma Allen
Grandpa Allen
Aunt Gwen and Cousin Ainsley
Grandpa Jovaag
Grandma Crews (Mimaw) and Cousin Chase 
Uncle Dave, Aunt Tonya, and Cousin Chase
My BFF Kim's daughter Baylee

Since he was born, not even 6 weeks ago, Elijah has been to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park twice, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Aquarium, the Museum of Nature and Science, and even to his first movie, Monster's University.  He slept through most of it, but he was so good.  He is a wonderful baby, hardly every fusses and is easy to travel with.  I hope this is a good sign and he stays that way!  We have lots to see and do!!!

We have enjoyed all the visitors coming to see him and I have really enjoyed my 6 weeks of maternity leave.  Tomorrow I go back to work and Elijah goes to daycare.  As much as I would love to stay home with him, a small part of me (very small part) is ready to go back to work.  I love my job so much (plus, we need 2 incomes).

I love these times of cuddling and smiles more than anything and I am really looking forward to all the places we will get to travel and all the adventures Colorado has in store for our family!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We're Having a Baby!

February 26, 2013

On September 13, 2012 we found out we are expecting our first baby and I am due on May 22, 2013.  We are so excited to start a family, and we found out a few weeks ago we're having a boy!  Of course, the hubby is thrilled, as am I.  We have picked out a name for the little guy too, Elijah Lee Allen.  I cannot wait to meet him!

We've been in Colorado 2 1/2 years now and feel like we have settled right in.  We both found jobs we love (me especially, I really lucked out!), we made some good friends, bought a house, and now we are starting our family here.  All in all Colorado has been a wonderful place for us to call home and has enhanced Rich and I's relationship.

The time we've been here we have spent hiking, camping, fishing, exploring, etc... but really, all that time has only brought us closer and our friendship stronger.  We are looking forward to not only continuing to do all those things, but getting to do them with our little boy along for the ride.  I cannot wait to watch him play in the dirt while hiking, or catch his first fish, or take his first bike ride.  That's why I thought it was best to add to this blog, which may become a Colorado with kids blog, but that's ok too!

Pregnancy has been an unusual experience for me.  Not much morning sickness, which was nice, but other joys that friends warned  me about have all happened.  I am still overwhelmed with joy and anticipation though.  My husband has been more than supportive and amazing, especially through the emotional roller coaster that comes from hormones.  It seems I cry for no reason, but he is there with open arms and ice cream.  I love that man!

The nursery is almost all set up and it looks adorable!  Of course, the theme is fly fishing.  I just hope he likes to fly fish!  I will post pictures as soon as we have it all done.

Stay tuned, we're in for quite an adventure!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gem Lake

August 19, 2012

Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a hidden gem.  I loved this hike and loved Gem Lake.  Some hikers may think the lake is too small or too insignificant, but the rising rock walls behind the lake make for a different kind of lake view.

The trailhead isn't actually inside the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance, so it's perfect if you want to hike but don't want to pay the entrance fee.  From downtown Estes Park follow MacGregor Ave. north and follow signs to the Gem Lake Trailhead.  It's very well marked.  As always, my advice is get there early.  The parking lot fills up quickly.

Paul Bunyon's Boot
The first thing I noticed about this hike is how different the scenery is.  Instead of meadows or tall trees surrounding you there are huge boulders and spectacular views over looking Estes Park.

This interesting rock formation is known as Paul Bunyon's Boot.  It looked pretty neat! 

View of Estes Park from the Gem Lake Trail

The hike to Gem Lake is 3.6 miles round trip and the elevation gain is just under 1,000 feet.  That doesn't sound hard, but you gain all the elevation in about .5 miles.  There are stair like rocks you climb up for the last half of the climb.  It's not easy, especially on the knees, but push through it, you'll be glad you did!  I sure was!

First View of Gem Lake
View from Opposite Side of Gem Lake
My dad and I decided we weren't quite done exploring when we reached Gem Lake.  We decided to climb the rock wall behind the lake, betting there would be a beautiful view from the top...  Wow, were we right!

A Chipmunk, Probably Wondering Where I Came From
View from the Top of the Rock Wall Behind Gem Lake
So, if you're feeling up to it (and you have very good hiking boots on), check out the view from the top of the wall.  I have never seen anything so beautiful!  But be careful!  Getting up there was easy... getting down I was questioning how I managed to get up there.  But we made it down, safe and sound, and with beautiful pictures!  

Like I said, I loved everything about this hike, once you get past the stair climbing parts.  I wasn't expecting this tiny lake to be so beautiful.  And to think, the only reason I wanted to do this hike was simply to cross it off my list.  What a pleasant surprise!

The Crater

August 18, 2012

The hike to The Crater in Rocky Mountain National Park was a very short, but beautiful hike.

The trailhead for this hike is right off Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park just across from Poudre Lake.  Parking is limited, so of course it's best to get there early.  The hike is a whopping 2 miles round trip, but take time to sit and enjoy the view from the top.

The View from the Hike
A Deer We Saw Along the Way
The Crater
We chose to do this hike because we heard this is the breeding area for big horn sheep.  This area is closed during the lambing season, which I think ends in July.  It was open and pretty crowded in mid-August.  We didn't see any sheep, but a few hikers that were finished when we started said they had some luck.  I think we got a late start since we set up camp first.

I would recommend this hike for it's beauty alone.  While it's a short hike you do get above tree line, so the altitude makes it more difficult and much more windy.  I was actually COLD!  It was well worth it though!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gnome Hunting at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

August 7, 2012

I have been to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science twice before this visit, but never have I enjoyed it so much!  Shortly after moving to Colorado I saw a story on the news about hidden gnomes painted in the dioramas at the museum.  I quickly searched for them the first couple of times I was there but the crowd I was with thought gnome hunting sounded lame.  So I let it go.

When my best friend Kimberlee came to visit with her husband and 8 year old daughter I told her about the tale of the gnomes and of course she was intrigued as well.  This is why she is my best friend!  So, we spent the day hunting for gnomes!  What a day!  We actually found quite a few on our own before we realized the museum provides you with a detailed list of where to find the gnomes.  We were too good for that though and felt very proud of ourselves for finding most of them without any assistance.

We found six painted gnomes, a gnome constellation, two 3D gnome figurines, and Yoda.


We had a lot of fun with this!  I didn't type out the specific locations of all these since you can get it at the information desk, but this way you can see what you're looking for should you decide to go gnome hunting at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lu Lu City

 July 14, 2012

The Lu Lu City trail starts at the Colorado River Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado River Trailhead

I will be honest... The only reason we did this hike is because I was told you were likely to see moose near the end of the trail.  We did not, and without seeing moose I found this trail just so-so.  Nothing spectacular.

The hike is 7.4 miles round trip and I would consider it easy for the distance.  The only tip I have is get to the trailhead early!  The parking lot was nearly full when we got there and we are very early starters.

The trail takes you to the site of Lu Lu City, once home to 200 residents with high hopes of finding enough silver to make it big.  Needless to say, that never pannned out and by 1884, just four years after plans were made to build the city, it was abandoned.

Site of Lu Lu City

Now the only remnants of the city are a few logs and mining machinery left behind.  Personally, I wasn't impressed by what we saw along the hike.  Below is the picture of the only log cabin along the way, and I think we saw a rusty mining cart, but really there wasn't much to see.
Shipler Mine

Once you get to Lu Lu City the view opens up and it is really quite pretty.  We found the perfect log on the shore of the Colorado River to sit and eat lunch before the hike back.  We also ran into some small wildlife friends along the way.

Marmot Friend

Chipmunk Friend

Colorado River

Lake Haiyaha, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake

July 7, 2012

I have wanted to do this hike since I saw it in my hiking book.  It's a relatively easy hike and you see 5 beautiful lakes, so what better day to do it than my birthday!  What a great birthday it was!!!

The hike starts at the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Obviously, the first lake you pass is Bear Lake.

Bear Lake
Bear Lake is beautiful, and if you feel up for it you can take the very easy .5 mile hike around the lake.  The best views are from the opposite side of the lake where Hallett Peak rises above the lake.    

The next lake along the trail is Nymph Lake.  It's .5 miles up the trail from Bear Lake and an easy elevation gain.  This lake was my favorite!  The top was covered in water lillies and I thought it was so peaceful.

Nymph Lake
Just before reaching Dream Lake (1.1 miles into the trail) you come to a fork in the trail.  We decided to head to Lake Haiyaha first since it looked to be the more difficult of the options.  To get to lake Haiyaha you  take the left fork.  If you head right you will pass Dream Lake and then head towards Emerald Lake.

The hike to Lake Haiyaha is a little steep, but not too bad.  This lake lies 2.1 miles from Bear Lake, and it's full of giant boulders.  We hiked on a cloudy day, which kept us from really seeing the views, but it added a creepy feeling to the hike.  We felt like we were hiking in the clouds!  It was really neat!

Lake Haiyaha
After reaching Lake Haiyaha we headed back down to Dream Lake and took the other fork in the hike.  Dream Lake was very pretty, and there seemed to be good fishing there as well.  It was the largest of the 5 lakes we saw, but again I think it would have been a better view had it not been so cloudy.  I think beyond the clouds there would have been some beautiful views of mountain peaks.

Dream Lake
Past Dream Lake the hike climbs uphill for .7 miles until you reach Emerald Lake.  Emerald Lake was pretty, but I wish we could have seen the views.  We may have to take this hike again, but even a cloudy hike is better than the best day at work!

Emerald Lake
I calculated the whole hike, seeing all 5 lakes, (not including the .5 mile walk around Bear Lake) to be around 7.5 miles.  I would call this hike relatively easy with a few uphill climbs just before Lake Haiyaha and Emerald Lake.  But, if I can make it, anyone can make it!

This hike a must do!  I am also planning to do it again on a clear day, but I have so many others to do first before we can think about doing any hike a second time.