a morning at echo lake

As I've mentioned before, going "out to the mountains" is a very Coloradan thing to do. Indeed, a huge advantage of living here is all the fantastically beautiful destinations that are just a short drive away. However, we sometimes struggle with just doing it. It always feels like a lot of work to pick a place to go and to pack lunches and to find all the water bottles and to put on sunscreen and to load up the car and to battle the traffic and to convince our kids to put one foot in front of the other...You know. (Or you don't know, and I'm jealous that you feel that way!)

Those are my excuses. You never (or, very rarely) regret just getting in the car and going. Even if you end up at a different hike than you'd intended, it's still going to be enjoyable and memorable. 

Before saying anymore, I must give a shout out to my dear husband Dan. He's wayyyyy better than I am about encouraging us to be outdoorsy (which is a bit ironic, since I'm the one who grew up as more of a "camper"). 

And, so, last Sunday, we loaded up the car and hit the road before 9am for Echo Lake. It wasn't exactly a hike, per se, but instead a nice path around a the lake that gave us a chance to stretch our legs, breathe the fresh air, give Bryna a swim, enjoy a picnic, and listen to few drones being flown overhead (grrr). 

And of course, afterwards, ice cream needed to be had. We headed into Idaho Springs and hit up the Georgetown Valley Candy Company. Their mint chocolate chip was divine. Spearmint, apparently. 

a drive to see the aspens :: gunella pass

Checking out the Aspen trees in the fall is a thing people do in Colorado. A thing we had not yet done, officially, since moving here. Sure, we'd been outdoors in the fall, and seen a bit of Aspen foliage, but we'd never made a point to plan a trip with Aspen-peeping as the main motivation. Until this year.

The first weekend of October, we left bright and early Sunday morning and drove through Gunella Pass. We took interstate 70 west to Georgetown, and then after checking out the sleepy town, proceeded through the pass. The route is about three hours of driving time. Give or take.

We stopped a few places along the way to stretch our legs and take pictures. However, it seemed a lot of the most majestic views were places that stopping and getting two kids out of their carseats would have been quite dangerous, so the views just had to be appreciated in the moment. That's a good thing to do, right? 

Nevertheless, we did get some pictures at the places we stopped! Proof we went, of course.

^^so often it's hard to take pictures in quaint, historic towns because the parked cars get in the way. it was beautiful to be in georgetown early on a sunday morning when there was not much to distract from the old buildings.^^

^^the top of the pass. not many aspens to be seen, but absolutely breathtaking.^^

^^for years i've been wanting willa to get out into nature and just get dirty. she had a slow start, but i think the's finally there. she was delighted at all the little treasures she found when we stopped at a trailhead.^^

^^it was a beautiful day of fall + family!^^

mexico :: what we packed

When it comes to packing for recent trips, I've felt like a fish trying to swim upstream. I try so hard to pack minimally, but still we end up taking what feels like WAYYYYY too much stuff. Usually, I blame carseats. When we were planning a family vacation for 2016, our first thought was to do a trip entirely without carseats. We thought through a lot of itineraries, but couldn't come up with one that made sense for us. When we decided to go to Tulum, we pondered whether or not we could make the trip work without a car, but in the end we opted for a rental car. It was the right choice.

But still, even with the carseats, packing light had to happen. How much do you really need for a beach vacation anyway? I was thankful I could reference what we'd taken to Costa Rica a couple years back, and I tried to pack even a bit less since this trip was shorter and we had to use the same size suitcase for one extra human. So anyway, here's what we brought (minus Dan's clothes, but he packed about the same as I did, perhaps a tad less).  This list is mostly for my reference in the future, but maybe someone out there will find it useful, too?

willa's clothes
2 pair leggings
1 pair shorts
2 tank tops
2 t-shirts
2 dresses
1 beach cover-up
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 swim shirt
3 bathing suits
1 pair sandals
1 pair moccasins
2 pair socks
1 sunhat
1 pair sunglasses

cameron's clothes
1 pair pants
2 pair shorts
1 full-piece pjs
1 long-sleeved onesie
1 long-sleeved shirt
2 t-shirts
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 tank top
2 swim diapers
1 swim shirt
1 pair sandals
1 pair moccasins
1 pair socks
1 sunhat

toys + other kid items
Cheer Bear
3 books folder of coloring/art materials
2 matchbox cars
2 stacking cups
2 small plastic spoons (for sand play)
1 small ball
AquaDoodle
1 book of puzzles
1 BrainQuest
1 pair earphones
kids' camera
Ergo
Solly Baby Wrap
2 life jackets
2 carseats
1 travel crib

my clothes
2 short dresses
1 pair lightweight pants ("vacation pants!")
1 pair cropped legging
2 pairs shorts
2 t-shirts
1 lightweight cardigan
1 long-sleeved shirt
3 tank tops
1 beach cover-up
3 bikinis
1 swim shirt
1 sports bra
1 regular bra
2 pairs socks
1 pair running shoes
1 pair flip flops
1 sunhat
1 pair sunglasses

non-clothing items
2 bags of toiletries (lots of sunscreen; minimal make-up)
laundry soap
travel knife
12 Lärabars
fruit leather
canvas bag
4 water bottles
2 snack containers (plus a few we used as sand toys and then recycled there)
Steripen to purify water
2 books
2 magazines
2 iPhones + 1 charger
iPad + 1 charger
1 camera
2 headlamps