Our First Colorado Visitors & Unforgettable Road Trips


On May 2nd, our first visitors from our home state of Arizona visited us for the first time since we moved to Colorado. Its been almost a year since we moved here. In fact looking at the date, we have lived in Colorado 11 months to the day now. If you’re thinking of moving here too, check out Douglas County CO real estate. It’s crazy how fast yet slow sometimes time passes. The days seem long but the months have been short making it still feel like a very new experience for us.  Anyway, we headed to DIA (Denver International Airport) last Wednesday morning to greet Randy, Claire, and two-year-old Liam on their first trip to our home in Northern Colorado. We had four days of sightseeing planned for them and couldn’t wait to hit the road and show them our favorite parts of Colorado. 

Wednesday when they arrived, it was rainy and gloomy for the first day and a half of their stay, which required that we change our plans and stay home Thursday, but we did hit a place that would thrill a 2-year-old that had an aquarium of fish at Scheels. We also got Brunch at The Egg and I Thursday morning, a place that reminds us of our beloved Ponderosa Pines restaurant in Flagstaff. Then we anxiously waited for Friday, a day with better weather, where we would hit the road and head over to the Western Slope to places like Rifle Falls, Glenwood Springs, and Aspen.

Friday morning around 9 am we hit the road and made it all the way to Glenwood Springs to check into our hotel room. We had a really cool suite at Glenwood Suites with a full kitchen, dining area, and two attached king bedrooms that allowed us all to stay together.

After we checked in, we hit the road to give a tour of where we had planned to build a house, where we actually lived in Rifle Colorado and of Rifle Falls (one of our favorite places on the Western Slope) which was about a 20-minute drive from Glenwood Springs. It was shocking to see that the house we were having built had walls and a roof, but that was about it in six months time. There was still no electrical or windows or siding. Clearly, it would have taken more than a year before it was fully built and we didn’t want to wait that long and hated the house we were currently renting. That house sucked all the joy out of me. I’m so glad we are living where we live now. The only downside is that I haven’t made any connections here. Well, maybe one. We’ll see how the summer goes.

Anyway, back to the trip…

Rifle Falls was amazing and we enjoyed walking thru this state park for the third time. The boys had a blast playing with Liam and helping him through the caves. They found a bunch of snail shells and picked them up along our path through the falls and the caves. I remember Braidy saying, “eew this snail is slimy” I didn’t think much of it, until Sunday when I tried to replay events in my mind that may have led to his current illness.

When we got back to the car, he asked for a snack and I let both boys eat from a bag of snacks I had packed for them. Ideally, they should have washed their hands, but I forgot the antibacterial wipes on the counter back at home 3.5 hours away and dismissed the snail slime from my mind. We hop in the car to head to Wal-Mart to pick things up like milk for the two-year-old…and that very two-year-old threw up on the way there! Claire said it was most likely motion sickness from some of the windy switchback roads. I’ve had many experiences with children throwing up in cars so I was truly hoping this was the last and only experience on our trip.

I would be dead wrong. 

We get back to Glenwood Springs after our trip to Rifle Falls and pick up fast food to eat back at the hotel room. Then we settle in for the evening because the next day we planned on hitting John Denver’s Sanctuary in Aspen along with the Maroon Bells. But seeing the Maroon Bells fell through once again for us when my husband researched the entrance fee to get in and discovered that the road to them was still closed from winter snow. So I, unfortunately, have only seen the tip of these majestic mountains with my own eyes. But I’ve seen many pictures that make me want to go there. The good news, we can come back at any time and see them since we live in this wonderful state. 

Saturday morning we wake up and hit the road to Aspen. I will tell you that getting in and out of our Dodge Journey with seven people is a pain in the butt when you have a car seat and two booster seats to deal with. Our Dodge Journey has a third row that opens up but can only be accessed by folding up the middle row and only two people can fit back there. The middle row can fit three small people. So our conundrum was trying to figure out how to secure Liam in his car seat. Car seat laws changed in 2002 requiring all vehicles to have a car seat latch under the seat to keep infants from breaking their necks due to the amount of movement just using a car seat belt allows. On our trip through the Rockies, I insisted that we do it the right way. However with Liam’s recent car sickness, he wanted his mama, so we ended up putting him next to his mom in the very back row so she could keep an eye on him using the seatbelt method because our back row did not have the latches under the seats.

My thought at that point was that people drive around vehicles older than 2002 and many people don’t have a choice but to use the seat belt method with older vehicles, so I figured the trip was in God’s hands anyway and we would do the best we could. Anyway, getting people in and out of this car was a major pain in the ass….it would prove even more difficult later in our vacation with several trips to the bathroom with an ill child!

Aspen was beautiful, but we were slightly disappointed as most of the flowers and trees at John Denver Sanctuary had yet to bloom. There were very few things in bloom. It was still great to see the Roaring Fork again and the Aspen ski slope. After our time at the sanctuary, we tried to drive up the road to see the Maroon Bells as far as it would let us go. We ended up getting pictures of just the tip of one. One day I’ll see them in person. 

We drive back to Glenwood Springs to hang out at Two Rivers park so the kids could get pent-up energy out and Scott could meet up with some friends he used to work with. Then we topped the day off with Ice cream and hanging out riverside of the Colorado skipping rocks.

Just before dinner arrived Braidy told me his stomach hurt. I didn’t think much of it because he says this when he’s hungry but we were expecting a pizza delivery at the hotel room at any moment. He mentioned again after dinner that his stomach hurt and that’s when I was just slightly more concerned hoping it would just go away and he’d wake up feeling refreshed.   

He didn’t wake up feeling refreshed…

We gave him all the time we could to get whatever it was out of his system but had to hit the road back to Loveland and on our way, we planned on hitting the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass then wind our way through the Rockies up to Estes Park then down into the Foothills. We didn’t even make it to Keystone when Braidy threw up. Thankfully I thought to grab an empty coffee cup and some plastic bags from the hotel room to use.

I was trying to make him smile here. Braidy always poses for the camera but clearly he was totally not up for any smiles. In this instance, I was glad that I was sandwiched next to him so that I could comfort him through the windy roads. 

About halfway to Estes Park, two-year-old Liam throws up! So we pull over again and remove everyone from the vehicle to get him cleaned up. I’m so glad Braidy’s was contained in a cup because Liam’s was not! He nailed himself, the car seat and his favorite blanket pretty bad. His parents change him and we hope for the best all the way down to the beautiful Church on the Rock about ten miles before you get to Estes Park.

 Isn’t this chapel beautiful in this setting? The mountain behind it is called Longs Peak that sits at 14,259 feet. We can see this peak from our house. 

The inside of this chapel was just as beautiful.

We learned that Pope John Paul II visited this Chapel back in 1993 and in 2011 it was spared and saved from a huge forest fire that ripped through that area of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

We finally make it to Estes Park and see the iconic Stanley hotel from the movie “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. Randy and Claire also got to experience first hand the elk that we told them about that. They have no fear of humans. They walk right down the middle of Main street, sleep in people’s driveways, eat their vegetation and procreate right there on the side of the road, so cover your kid’s eyes! LOL! We saw joggers just running by some of them without acknowledging them because it’s an everyday occurrence.

Elk in Estes Park

I’m going to make a part two to this post and end it here because it has gotten too long already. But from Estes Park, we make it back home, which is only about an hour’s drive. We get to sleep in our own beds Sunday night, but we woke up to do some more adventuring in the southern part of Colorado on Monday…our last day of travel and the worst day of the trip by far! 

Click here to read part two! 

About Heather Jones

I'm a coffee addict wife, "work at home mom", mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy "momisodes".

Heartfully Heather


This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me, Heather Jones. For questions about this blog, please contact me via the “Contact Me” link on the top menu bar or click here. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

Disclosure Policy For Reviews / Guest/Sponsored Posts: 

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinions on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for posts or advertisements, I (we) always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers’ own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

To see more of my disclosure policy please click here.

Heather Jones

I'm a coffee addict wife, "work at home mom", mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy "momisodes".

17 thoughts on “Our First Colorado Visitors & Unforgettable Road Trips

  1. This is so beautiful, I want to visit Calorado one day with my kids but it’s on the other side of the country. I’m hoping by the time they are all in middleschool so we can snowboard.

  2. I haven’t had a chance to visit Colorado, and it sounds like there are so many great things to explore. That’s fun that you were able to show your guests some of your favorites.

  3. Colorado is such a nice place to visit and to explore this place is really an unforgettable experience and a great adventure will definitely add this to my bucket list.

  4. I’ve only ever been to the Denver airport, but I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado. It’s such a beautiful state and so much to see and do there!

  5. I love Colorado. Ive been to most of the places that you mentioned except Rifle falls. I was young when we saw Maroon Bells. July is the best time to venture into that area. Im sorry the kids got sick. When traveling in the mountains, my mom always carried plastic bags, a towel, and lots of wet wipes. My brother got motion sick in the Mountains.

    Estes Park kicks my butt. The altitude got to me.

  6. These pictures are so night! Colorado is such a beautiful state, and those mountains are breathtaking.

  7. That looks like such a life affirming road trip with the family. Seeing the beauty of nature and being present.

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.