Monday, July 4, 2016

Smith Lake with the Bantas

Brian and Shannon extended an invitation to our family for a long weekend at their lake house over the 4th of July weekend.  It was a change from our normal weekend with Steve's family, but our children were excited to try all of the water sports and spend several days with their cousins.  Thankfully the weather cooperated with us for our stay, and we spent a lot of time on the water.
Every emotion displayed here!

They were great hosts, letting us spread out and teaching our kids how to do everything.  The kids started off tubing, and it escalated from there to knee boarding, stand up knee boarding, wake boarding and finally skiing.  Preston caught on pretty quickly to it all, and wasn't afraid to try anything.  Bennett was more timid, but enjoyed the stand up knee board and gave wake boarding her best shot.  Preston and Christian even jumped off of a huge rock into the lake several times!  Walker was finally brave enough to float in the lake with his life jacket, but his highlight of the weekend was helping his Uncle Brian drive the boat.  It became his favorite place on the boat quickly!
finally happy in his life vest
"Captain Walker"
Preston wakeboarding

Bennett kneeboarding

catching some air!
Of course there was even more fun had at the pools in their neighborhood, relaxing in their hammocks, and just hanging out.  Everyone had a buddy....even Walker.  Their neighborhood, Silverock Cove, is filled with young families so there were children everywhere.  Brian and Shannon, along with Reed and Melanie Nitto, seemed to know a great deal of them too. 

The girls enjoyed baking a cake for the festivities on July 3rd with Melanie, and the boys had a ball helping light fireworks for the big show later that evening.  There was a little down time in the afternoons, but we otherwise stayed pretty active until we pulled out late afternoon on the 4th.

That tongue...always out!

Walker loves Lucy!

Thank you Brian and Shannon for sharing your beautiful home with us!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Vail Getaway

Four Seasons Bears
Steve travels all of the time to visit clients, visit job sites, visit BV offices and attend conferences.  Most of the places he goes to aren't glamorous, but his most recent trip was in Vail so he could attend a conference.  Initially I didn't think I could swing it, but his parents stepped in again to watch our children, so I snuck away with him for 5 days.

The trip went very smoothly with our flights, dinners and weather.  Steve went to work, and I got to relax!  We had dinners every night, but we made time for ourselves too.  We arrived Sunday night, checked into our room at the Four Seasons (which was very nice), freshened up quickly and met some folks for dinner.  Monday morning, we woke up early - unable to sleep we decided to take an early morning walk, and grab breakfast.  The Little Diner was great, and filled our bellies.  Steve showered and attended his conference and I packed my backpack and went on a hike. 
Atop Eagle Baum Gondola, view of Mt Holy Cross in background

I rode the Eagle Baum gondola up (takes you about halfway up the mountain), and then I chose a couple of trails to hit from there.  One was a very short one with incredible views, and the other was supposed to be a longer one to the other gondola.  Somewhere along the way I got off track, and ended up at the very peak of the mountain instead.  I didn't mind the extra steps, as the view was awesome!  But since I didn't really know where I went wrong, I decided to look at the ski map, and go down a ski run to the other gondola.  It was a fun walk/run down the hill, but boy it would have been easier with snow and skis. When I made it there, I decided to just keep on walking, across to the other gondola on a fairly flat trail.  Then I enjoyed a cold beer, and rode the gondola back down.
the sign says it all....what a great hike!

Look what I found at the top...SNOW!

At The Tenth, at the top of Gondola One
Steve and I met up late afternoon and went to our early dinner at the top of gondola one, The Tenth.  After dinner we met up with a few folks for more cocktails, before calling it quits at 1:00am!  Needless to say, we slept in some on Tuesday and then grabbed breakfast.  Steve then attended the conference and I decided to tackle another trail.  This time I started at the bottom of the mountain on Berry Picker.  This trail took me up to the Eagle Baum gondola winding through the woods with views of the beautiful aspens, waterfalls and wild flowers.  Though I went in the heat of the day, I wasn't terribly uncomfortable.  However, this hike was a very steep 2100 vertical feet that I managed to conquer in 1 hour 25 minutes.

beautiful scenery along the way
Atop Eagle Baum Gondola with the sunset

Steve met me at the base, and we changed clothes and hit the pool!  The pool at our hotel was so pretty, with lots of umbrellas, a fireplace for those chilly days, and wait staff for our every beckon call.  It was a relaxing couple of hours, before showering for yet another dinner.  That night, the view was nice, but the food wasn't, so we cut out and went to Mountain Standard.  There we enjoyed a couple of appetizers and drinks at the bar by ourselves before calling it a night.
In Beaver Creek Village

Wednesday, our final fun day, was by far our laziest day.  We slept in, and then drove over to Beaver Creek to explore.  We had a delicious pizza lunch at the Blue Moose, and then came home and napped before our white water rafting trip.  Mid afternoon we were picked up and taken to Avon to get our gear.  Then we all piled into vans and headed to our drop off for our trip.  It was a cloudy day, and the water was even colder than I expected it to be, even with a wetsuit, booties and a raincoat.  However, our guide was great, and the class 3 rapids were a lot of fun. Our last night, we dined at the acclaimed Sweet Basil.  Everything was just as divine as we had heard, and was a great way to conclude our trip.  Not sure if we will ski in this area this winter, but we both agreed that summers out west are awesome, and a welcomed break from the humidity of Alabama!  There are many things to do outside, and I am confident our children would have a ball out there too.  We will definitely return sometime to this beautiful area!
Class 3 Rapids along the Eagle River