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20 July 2007

Westward Ho!

Today we got back from our trip to Colorado, after 13 days. The plan was to post along the way, but between lack of internet or too-slow internet I wasn't able to. So, this post is a little lengthy...

Day 1: We got up at about 3 am and packed up the van and started driving! In addition to me, Rob, and Max, my dad, mom, and two sisters- Paige(19) and Laura(16) came. 7 people in a minivan, everyone's dream! So we drove about 8 hours to Kirtland, Ohio.
Rob taking a snooze

Max and Paige playing


Max enjoying the furniture in the Newel K. Whitney store

Max sleeping during the tour of the sawmill

Rob admiring the saw

The family in front of the Kirtland Temple

The beautiful Kirtland Temple

Day 2: We drive to Chicago, where my dad is from, and visit with our family there.

A fun picture on top of the pig rock at the campground we stayed at

Max helping to pack the car

Day 3: We start out with a family history trip to the St. James cemetary to see if we could find my great-great grandmother. It was a GOREGOUS cemetary, very obviously Irish Catholic, but unfortunately we didn't find her.

The graves went down the side of the hill the church is on- luckily, our jeep stroller took it like a champ

St. James cathedral

One of the graves that could be one of our relatives- it was beautiful kind of half-hidden in the grass

Some pictures of the goregous gates

Notice the shamrock in the corner- identifies it as an Irish cemetary

In the car on our way to Oak Park, where we took the Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour. For those who don't know, Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous architects in this country, and started developing his specific style while living in Oak Park, Illinois. As an Interior Architecture student, I wanted to check out his stuff while we were nearby.

Rob in front of the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio

One of my favorite houses on the tour

My favorite house on the tour- I just LOVE this entryway. Unfortunately, we couldn't go into any of the houses- I guess we'll have to do that our next trip to Chicago.

Max stretching his legs

Insisting on pushing his own stroller

Rob and Max passed out after a long day in the heat

Day 4: After bidding our relatives goodbye, we drive to Carthage, then Nauvoo.

Rob checking out the area where Joseph Smith landed after getting shot and killed at the Carthage Jail.

My mom, sister Paige, and sister Laura on the sidewalk in Nauvoo

Rob looking at the gun-making tools in the Browning home and shop

Rob in front of the brickyard. Nauvoo is a beautiful place, but I didn't enjoy it like I did the last time we went there 10 years ago. I think it is because it's more of a tourist destination now- I don't like crowds and the distraction they bring, I prefer more one-on-one time.

The Nauvoo temple

It is sooo beautiful, and now that it is there it is easier to imagine what Nauvoo looked like when the Saints lived there

Again, it is so incredibly beautiful

Max driving us to Iowa where we spent the night

Day 5: The drive to Kansas- not to see anything in Kansas, just a stop for the night on our way to Colorado. We stayed in Hays, Kansas- the modern version of the Fort where Kevin Costner reported for duty in Dances With Wolves. The bright spot of this was we saw Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix!

Notice the nice bunch of nothing behind my mom and Max. What was really scary was the brown water at this gas station.

Day 6: We arrive in Colorado! We stopped for lunch in Simla, my grandmother's hometown. Her and my grandfather met us there and after eating they showed us around all five streets of this town.

Max sitting in a tree in the town park

Our tour of Simla culminated in a visit to the town cemetary. It was so incredibly dry and hot, but there were a couple of horses in the shade, so we visited with them. Max loved them, of course, just like he loves the vast majority of animals he meets.

One of the avenues in the cemetary- quite a contrast from the one in Chicago. My grandma insists we do not bury her here. (My grandprents have lived in Virginia since my mom was about 7)

Day 7: We arrived in Colorado Springs the day before, but didn't do much besides visit with family. So the next dat, we went to Garden of the Gods.

Max was a total crankpot, but I did manage to get a couple of cute pictures... here he is with my mom at the visitor's center- he really digged hanging onto the railing

Max tackling a buffalo

Having fun with dad

After checking out the visitor's center and the gift shop, we were ready to hike around, so Max rode in our handy sling.

I felt like an Indian mother with my sling and moccassins.

I love our sling! As you can tell, a stroller can't cut it in this terrain, and even a baby carrier would make hiking around this place difficult- in places it was almost like rock climbing, and if I didn't have him in this I would've had to stick to one of the boring trails that don't get close to the rock formations. Another plus with the sling is that it's compact- with 7 people in a minivan, a baby carrier would've been left behind.

Finding relief in some shade

Rob admiring the scenery

Hiking together

I couldn't believe Max fell asleep with all the movement of climbing over rocks

I couldn't resist buying Max some moccassins- isn't he cute?

Day 8: We were still in Colorado Springs, so we drove up into the mountains while Max slept, and then we went to the zoo.

During this trip Max's two top teeth came through, but at different times- for a few days he looked like a hillbilly with one tooth lower than the other

We went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and they specialize in giraffes- you can buy giraffe crackers to feed to them. We got some and gave one to Max to feed the giraffe, but unfortunately, Max thought it was for him so I had to keep him from eating it, and when it came time to give it to the giraffe, he wasn't going to give it up. I thought the giraffe was going to bite Max's little fingers off 'cause Max had a DEATH GRIP on it. I even had a hard time getting Max to let go. Just further proof we need to work on this sharing thing.

Those giraffes love those crackers

It's funny how hard it is for them to bend over to drink

Max enjoying looking at the animals

For some reason Max loves to hang onto railings

The zoo is located on the side of the mountain, and here is the beautiful view from it.

This is a miniature owl- it reminded me of Pig, Ron's owl in the Harry Potter books

Taking a quick break in the shade

My sisters Laura and Paige sitting on one of the cool benches

A gorilla flicking us off

The baby chimp- he is sooo cute!

Some of the wildlife escaped (and reproduced, how scary is that?!)

After the zoo we drove through the Garden of the Gods one last time and stopped to take a group picture. The best part was Max was even looking at the camera!

The Garden of the Gods- a very appropriate name, in my opinion.

Day 9: We left beautiful Colorado Springs for Estes Park, Colorado for our family gathering to celebrate my grandparent's 50th anniversary.

The mountain next to our hotel. Estes Park is where the Stanley Hotel is located- this hotle is where Steven King got the idea for the Shining, and I think it's where they even filmed the movie. My grandma told us it was a really creepy place, but it was beautiful! Our hotel, however, was a different story. It was overcast when we arrived and we were the only people there. As we were walking around the grounds, exploring, it was sooo creepy- the hotel is going through a foreclosure and stuff so the pool was deserted and full of green, slimy water, and the tennis courts were overgrown. It wouldn't have been so bad, except they are behind the hotel and stuff in the woods, and all the picnic tables were run-down, and there were deserted concession stands and stuff. It was a lot more creepy than the Stanley Hotel. I didn't get any pictures, though, and I keep kicking myself.

Day 10: We hung around Estes Park and welcomed my grandparents and other family.

My mom loves the Rocky Mountains and took me and my sisters up the side of the mountain behind our hotel. It was slightly terrifying- we didn't follow any trail, just blazed up the really steep side of the mountain

One of the funny faces max makes when he palys with his new teeth

Day 11: We hung out in Estes Park some more, and then for dinner we celebrate my grandparent's 50th anniversary.

My grandparents- Lila and Bob Ensign. It was a special night, with all of their children adn grandchildren and great-grandchildren (except for my brother) there, along with my grandma's two brothers and my great-uncle's daughter and her husband. After dinner we looked at photographs of them through the years. I hope Rob and I make it to 50 years- what an incredible thing, to spend 50 years, good and bad, with one person.

Day 12: We leave Estes Park for home!

Max stretching his legs before getting back into the car seat.

Max and Laura playing

Day 13: After driving all night we get to Greensboro about 4 pm.

Max's hair after 30 hours straight in the car (just kidding, mom played with his hair after his bath)


  1. That is a great summary of your trip! It looks like you had fun! I am glad you made it home safe!


  2. Wow! You guys look like you had so much fun on your trip! I could never survive that many hours in a car so kudos to you both and of course, especially Max!

    Those water moccasins were so cute. And I can't believe you did all the hiking around with a baby on your back!

    Thanks for sharing all your photos. We are glad you guys are back!

  3. I was wondering what happened to you guys and was afraid the bathroom remodeling must've taken a turn for the worst! Glad to hear it was a fun road trip instead. Loved the pics. My favorite is the group photo. You and your sisters are so cute!

  4. I loved your pictures! It made me want to go on vacation. : ) I can't wait to see your finished bathroom pics.