Sorry for the picture overload 😉
Who knew our two
pains in the butt dogs could have such control over us. We cut our vacation in half and skipped out on visiting Gunnison. Instead, we returned to Iowa Wednesday night.
From this vacation, we have FINALLY learned a few things:
- Vacations that are longer than four days, without the dogs, are just too long for us. As difficult as they are, we end up missing them like crazy and just don’t feel complete.
- Planning vacations in advance doesn’t work well (for us). I tried really hard to have this one planned out and we just ended up canceling a lot of reservations. We are better off just flying by the seats of our pants.
- Buying a one way ticket or driving are probably better options for us. Round-trip plane tickets might be cheaper but they limit ours ability to just go when we want.
Let’s Do a Vacation Recap
I booked our flight to leave Des Moines bright and early, so we could have all day Sunday to explore Woodland Park. We got to Woodland around 10 AM and decided to head right to the trail to hike. We opted for an easier hike to the Rampart Reservoir, since it was later in the day and we had traveled so much already, .
After our hike we were able to check into our Airbnb **spoiler alert** it was a tiny house, and I am totally in love!! Derek had me take plenty of pictures of the inside for future building plans 😉 For dinner we had the most amazing burger I have ever had at the Historic Ute Inn, so juicy and flavorful – YUMM.
Our time in Woodland short as we had stayed there once before, so this was just a quick layover. We packed up the rental car and grabbed some amazing donuts from The Donut Mill and started on journey to Leadville. From our RVing adventure, we learned that driving is part of the trip and stopping along the way is worth it. Check out these amazing views we would have missed had we just drove by without stopping.
Derek’s one request for the vacation was to bike the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, since we flew we would need to rent bikes. With it being a holiday week, the only day we could rent bikes was Monday. The Mineral Belt Trail is 11.6 miles (which took us about 3 hours to ride). If you ever find yourself in Leadville, I highly recommend the bike ride it was totally worth it. After, we had dinner at High Mountain Pies, which had some amazing views and even more amazing pizza.
Derek did some research and found Timberline Lake Trail that was rated “moderate,” which we thought would be a good fit at such a high elevation. Holy smokes, I am more out of shape than I thought. Part way through the hike I was wondering why Derek and I consider this a “vacation” – hiking at 11,000 ft was brutal. When we got to the top and found this lake, I remembered the views and peacefulness make it 100% worth it. We have gotten to see places that other people aren’t lucky enough to view in person
Shortly after we returned from the hike, a storm blew through and the temperature dropped like crazy. We bundled up in our winter coats and headed downtown for dinner. While we didn’t get to enjoy mountain views for dinner, the food was still yummy at Tennessee Pass Cafe. While at dinner Derek and I started talking about how much we missed the dogs, and we were only about halfway through our vacation. When we got back we started looking into changing our plane tickets (and without insurance) we were looking at an additional $1,500 to fly home early! Deciding we didn’t want to spend that much extra money, we called the rental car place and found it was actually decently priced to change drop-off location and return the car to Des Moines instead of Denver. Not looking forward to a 12 hour car ride, Derek started searching for new plane tickets and we found we could purchase new tickets WAY cheaper then changing our original flight. So flying by the seats of our pants, we booked new plane tickets to return home Wednesday night.
Since we had cut our trip in half, we decided we wanted to get in one more hike before making the two hour drive to the Denver airport. I found a hike that was on our way to the airport and would allow us to check our the ruins from an old mine. This hike was much easier than Tuesday’s hike and the ruins were pretty neat. Can you imagine waking up to these view every morning?
The hike took us about half the time we were expecting, so we arrived at the airport WAY too early (10:30 AM for a 4:30 PM flight). After checking our bags, getting through security, and grabbing some lunch – we still had plenty of time to read and people watch. Due to a few storms, the flight was a bit rocky taking off but we landed safely in Des Moines around 7:00 PM.
I was really hoping a trip to Colorado would make our decision. Before we left Des Moines, I figured when we came back to Iowa, pack up and move to Colorado. It is stunning, beautiful and has mountains. However, when we weren’t hiking or biking our minds were constantly brought back to Iowa. We have built an amazing life here and have friends we could never replace. Today, we lean more towards 50% Iowa/50% traveling (with the dogs 😉 ). Granted if you know us, you know we change our minds on a daily basis, so who knows what tomorrow will bring.