We chose to stay close to home this summer for the first time in years! We wanted the kids to experience many lazy, boring days to recharge and hang with friends. And we wanted to take advantage of the hikes and experiences around Summit County, Colorado, one of the best places in the country to spend a summer vacation.
We kicked off the summer, though with some big trips. Isaac and Jadyn traveled to Mt. Hood, Oregon with their Team Summit family for an epic road trip, time on snow, surfing and cliff-jumping along the Pacific Northwest, and practicing at the airbag at the Olympic Training Center in Salt Lake City. Gabe spent almost two weeks with his best friend, Noah Hall, and they actually built a mini putt-putt course in their backyard and had fun tubing on Lake Tyler!
With all the kids out of the house, Don and I took a 10 day trip to Kauai to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Everyone was happy at their destinations, but I think Don and I were the happiest. We felt like college kids again, madly in love and enjoying our total freedom from parental expectations.
We all had awesome stories to share when we reunited.
Upon return, Gabe spent two weeks working for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, building trails in Breckenridge and even camping out for one week outside with his crew. When complete, he started his first job here at Digitiqe, the local tech store, which services all our audio/visual needs! The owner, James Lee, is awesome, and offers the perfect environment for Gabe to learn and grow – capitalizing on his tech and selling skills.
And Jadyn headed off to Durango for another amazing week of camp with Wyldlife. She was with some special friends, and they had fun activities like shaving cream fights, ziplining, paddle boarding, tubing, and tug-of-war mixed in with great talks about Jesus and His love for us. She had a blast!
Isaac spent a lot of time with great friends around town. A couple times, they’d head downtown and prank people. They would hide under a bridge and wave a dollar until someone bent down to pick it up, and then they’d snatch it back down and hear the people above express their disappointment and surprise! A friend of Isaac’s would be above the bridge recording the whole thing! 🙂 Other days, he hung out at River Center with another good buddy, performing with their yoyo’s or kendamas, trying to drive traffic to YoYo Loco, a local skill toys store. And another day, he and another awesome buddy (Isaac really has the BEST friends!) jumped off the railing of the Dredge into the Blue River. His friend even had a broken wrist, so they first had to find plastic bags and duct tape to protect his cast from getting wet! Good memories.
One of Isaac’s highlights was deciding to hike his first 14er alone with his friend Will. We all watched the Perseid Meteor shower the night before from our 2nd floor deck. It was like a divine fireworks show. In the morning, I dropped them off at the Mt. Quandary trailhead and came back to pick them up five hours later. They were energized! And they still wanted more. They wanted to camp out at Mohawk Lakes that very night! So we decked them out with our backpacking gear, hiked them up to their camping spot, and left them alone for the night, even without cell service. I was proud of him for wanting to do this on his own, but I don’t think I got much sleep that night, wondering about animals and strangers, etc. and holding my breath until I heard from him the next day. Of course, all was fine, and it was a huge win all the way around!
Don and I had a few epic hikes of our own. We scaled two fourteeners in one day – a 12+ mile hike with 5800 ft elevation gain, to peak Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford, both outside of Buena Vista. We started at 5:30 am and finished close to 4 PM! The views were amazing, and we even met a fellow Austin-ite at the summit of Mt. Belford!
We also hiked up to Gore Lake in the Gore Range for the first time with a couple friends on a perfect blue-sky day. That was an 11 miler, and the views were beautiful the whole way. The rugged peaks, calm mountain lake, and even eagle soaring across the water made it most memorable.
Another highlight was our weekend trip to Telluride. We had only visited prior in the winter, so we were looking forward to seeing it in the summer. My long-time dear friend, Rosemarie was getting married, and I had the honor of being her officiate. The wedding ceremony and reception were perfect in every way, with the backdrop of Wilson Peak, and the clear night sky full of stars. The kids had time on their own to just explore and enjoy the town.
We ended the summer with one last trip – to Dallas – for business and pleasure. Don owns a Mechanical Engineering company in Ft. Worth, and my parents and sister’s family are in the area. The kids spent two days at Six Flags – one with my sister, her fam, and my Mom to celebrate her 66th birthday, and the other on their own with their best friends, the Halls. We got to hang with Don’s brother Mike and his girlfriend, Thu, eating delicious Korean food, hanging out at Pinstack, and seeing their beautiful new home! We loved catching up with everyone! Never enough time, though!
I think we are all in denial that the school year has actually started. We still try to hike and play tennis as much as we can. Isaac has been skating after school most days with his buddies, and Jadyn even snuck in a weekend getaway with a BFF to Glenwood Springs. But we are slowly getting into the daily rhythms and routines and catching up on sleep on the weekends. The kids all have great teachers and classes and are reading again on their own more than ever.
Don and I are keenly aware of the diminishing days we have together with our growing teens. Raising teens is not easy, but we cherish all our conversations and try to make space to prioritize the seemingly mundane times, like in the kitchen or the car, as opportunities to connect. We are so proud of them all and just enjoy them (and their friends!) so much. Here’s to another year ahead! Grateful for the summer memories!