Colorado…..week 3 of 3 (maybe we should move here!!)

Last week (August 16-22) we spent with my parents and also my sister, brother-in-law and their kids. For a few days we stayed at Trail Creek Ranch which is in the middle of NOWHERE, but so GREAT!! My mom had found it on Vacation Rental By Owner. On our way out to the ranch Lance and I were both thinking….did we miss the turn?? Could it really be 45 minutes down this dirt road?? But, boy, was it a nice place to escape to. The house was old (built around 1900), was right next to a river and had acres and acres of beautiful fields and rocky hills around it. It backed up to state land so there really was NOTHING around! The owner told us that we could explore wherever we wanted to.   On Wednesday most everyone went white water rafting and had a great time. I stayed home with Ben, Rose and my niece, Natalie. We enjoyed our quiet day at home, catching up on laundry and checking out the land around the house. We found an old truck and tractor that Ben had fun climbing on and Natalie and I kept our eye out for bears which the owner had told us come down to the river by the house quite a bit to eat the berries. We never did see any bears, but it could be because of our wildlife repellant (ten loud and energetic children running around)!!!

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Ben “driving” the old tractor

There were some buildings near the house that were pretty cool too. One was in the process of being carefully taken apart to be moved about 6 miles away because of it’s historical significance. It was an old barn(built around 1900) and was used by Buffalo Bill Cody to house elephants that were part of his traveling wild west show. We were also pretty lucky to have Greg (the man taking apart the barn)there because he rescued Rose for me. She had taken a nap in one of the upstairs bedrooms, but when I went to get her up the door was stuck shut. I tried and tried to get that thing open all while she was screaming inside. Since everyone else was gone on the rafting trip I was getting a little anxious. I went out and asked him for help and after slamming into the door a few times with all his strength he got it open. We brought him a “thank you” gift in the form of fudge oatmeal bars the next day!

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Trail Creek Ranch house

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The barn building used by Buffalo Bill Cody for his elephants

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A couple of outbuildings

On Thursday some of the group also went on a train ride through the Rocky Mountains and went on a mine tour. The miner who led the tour was a whethered retired miner. He gave Abby and Sam each a rock that had a layer of gold running through it at the end of the tour which made their day.

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Abby and Jon riding the train

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Abby and Jon at the mine

Once again, the kids had a great week with cousins fishing, writing stories, hiking and playing games.

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Ben and Grandpa playing in the cold water of the river that was next to the ranch house

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Ben in the field in front of the house.  The sun rose right over those mountains….and we usually got to see it because Rose was quite the early bird!!

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Campfire time and cousin time for Joe, Ben and Ethan

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Elise and Rosemary in the house

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The morning that we left the ranch we saw this big horned sheep next to the road.

Friday we headed back into town to stay a couple of nights at a hotel in preparation for the event of the week…my brother’s wedding!  We also got to meet, for the very first time, my new niece, Olivia.  She was born only three weeks after Rosemary so hopefully they will grow up to be good buddies despite the distance apart.  Saturday (the 22nd) was the big day. Ben and Kelsey had a very nice ceremony at a the beautiful Tapestry House near Fort Collins. Afterwards we had a great time at the reception….eating a delicious dinner, visiting with people and dancing. We also had to say goodbye to my sister and her family that night, they left to drive through the night back to Michigan. We will probably not be seeing them for quite a few months so it was a hard goodbye.

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Just Married!!  Ben and Kelsey with sweet little Olivia

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Sisters all dressed up and having fun celebrating

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Sisters…enjoying our last evening together of the week.  That was a hard good bye.

The next morning we went out for breakfast with my parents. We parted ways with them then, but at least it’s only for a couple of weeks!

Well, now we are driving through South Dakota so the next post will probably be about that!!

Colorado…..week 2 of 3 (this state is awesome!)

Our second week in Colorado (August 9-15) Lance needed to be back in Kansas City for work, but the kids and I stayed at a Jellystone Park near Larkspur since we would need to be back in Colorado for the following week anyway. A HUGE blessing to me was that my parents were able to come to Colorado a week early and camp next to us for that week. It was so great to spend time with them and also to have a couple more adults to wrangle all of the kids! The kids made friends with the kids that lived at the campground so they were busy playing GaGa Ball and basketball every chance they got

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On Wednesday we went to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings which are Native American homes built into the red rock cliffs dating back to 1100-1300 AD. It was very interesting to read the history as we went through and the kids loved that you could just explore and play in so many of the buildings.  Wednesday was also Lance’s birthday! We missed spending his special day with him, but got ice cream in his honor!! IMG_9539 - Copy

Joe, Rosemary and me with my mom

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Ben kept trying to hide his sippy cup in the little openings

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This boy was quite a little dirt ball when we were done there!

Lance was back in CO on Friday and we all went on the Cog Train up Pike’s Peak. It was a pretty ride and we saw lots of deer (with crazy big antlers) and lots of Marmets.  I think if we were to do it again, I would leave the littlest two with a babysitter.  I thought that Ben would love the train, but after 10 minutes he was ready for what’s next and we still had an hour and twenty minutes until the top!  The top of the mountain was a bit disappointing because the clouds blocked any view of the valley below, but we still enjoyed our fresh hot donuts and picking out postcards! - Copy

The view from the cog train as we headed up Pike’s Peak

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It was cold up at the top!  Rose got to wear a hat that my Grandma Wolters had made for Elise when she was a baby.

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Rose riding the big horned sheep in the gift shop

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Joe, Lance and Ben with the cog train behind them.  You can also see how cloudy it was at the top!

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Rose and her Grandma Haveman

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At the top of Pike’s Peak

Friday also happened to be my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary so after the train ride we went home and they went out for a quiet dinner together. I am so thankful for their example of commitment to God and each other over the years. IMG_9843 - Copy

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

That weekend we all (my parents and us) headed to Boyd Lake State Park, north of Denver a little bit. We stayed there for Sunday and Monday night. It was a nice park where Sam could go fishing, there were hiking paths all around, a basketball court for Joe and a sand box and swing set right next to our sights. Ben made some friends and had fun sharing his beach toys with them in the sand box. He also found out what happens when you poke a busy ant hill over and over that’s filled with short-tempered red ants. Poor little guy, had them crawling inside his shirt and shorts in no time and had quite a few bites, but he recovered pretty quickly!IMG_5426 - Copy

Ben hiking.  He loves to pick up sticks to use as canes and guns.

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The beautiful sunset we saw from our campsite one evening

We took a day trip to go hiking again in Rocky Mountain park and hiked to the Eugenia mine.  It was a sunny day when we left on the 2.8 mile round trip hike, but when we reached the mine it started to thunder, lightning and then rain.  We would have loved to explore a little more, but headed back to the car.  The storm was over before we were halfway back so we still got to enjoy our picnic lunch in the park.              - Copy

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This is near the mine before it started raining.  There was an ice cold little stream and you used the logs to get over it.

That marks the end of the second week in Colorado….stay tuned for the third week!!


Colorado….week 1 of 3 (we love it here!)

July 26, 2015

Well, I have so much to catch up on! We have just spent the last three weeks in Colorado and loved it!!!  Since I’m trying to cover so much time at once, I’m going to break this up into three separate posts.

For the first week (August 1-8) we were near Parker, Colorado and got to meet up with Lance’s brother and sister-in-law and their kids who we haven’t seen in over three years. His parents and sister also made the trip out so the whole family was together.    This week had a few “firsts” for me….first time jumping at Skyzone (which was a BLAST!), first time looking around at IKEA (had always wondered what it was like and now I know I want to go back someday!) and first time being at the top of one of Colorado’s “Fourteeners” (a mountain with an elevation of at least 14,000).

The highlight of the week was staying at the YMCA of the Rockies near Estes Park ( for a couple of nights as a family. Everyone stayed busy with all of the fun activities they had to offer….tennis, mini-golf, basketball, dodge ball or just taking a walk and enjoying the beauty of the mountains.   We also went for a hike around Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was a beautiful day to be there and the kids loved climbing the giant rocks that were along the way.

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Walking to breakfast at the YMCA…look at that view!

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Elise at the playground

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I signed Elise and Ben up for the “Bugs, Bugs, Bugs” class.  The instructor taught a little about insects and then sent the kids outside with cups to catch some bugs.  Elise caught a worm and a potato bug and Ben caught a worm.  At the end of the class they all let their bugs go.  At one point the instructor was showing the kids a daddy long legs and talking about some of its features.  Ben came right up to him, looked at the daddy long legs and (much to the horror of the instructor) proceeded to step on the bug three or four times.  It was definitely dead.  The guy just kind of stood here with his mouth open and didn’t know what to say.  Ben just wandered off to catch more bugs.

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Cousins, cousins, cousins!!  Youngest to oldest

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Grandpa and Grandma with all of the grandkids

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Kornoelje Family Photo

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Scampering up the rocks like mountain goats

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Sam, the Magnificent!!

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Joe channeling a little Lion King with Rosemary

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Joe and Uncle Jeff taking a selfie

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Joe and his Grandpa Kornoelje

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On our way out of the park we stopped at this beautiful meadow.  I just loved the flowers and birch trees!

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On Thursday we drove to the top of Mount Evans (elevation 14,130).  I’m not normally a wimp when it comes to heights…but when Lance was driving the curvy, narrow road up the mountain and I could look straight down hundreds of feet I have to admit…I didn’t love it.  Once we were at the top, though, I felt a little better and even let some of the kids get out of the car.  (Don’t worry, Ben stayed in the car.  Are you kidding??  With how fast that man is??  He would have been somersaulting down the mountain in no time!)  Everyone loved the mountain sheep that were perched on rocks and nimbly climbing around.  We also stopped about half way down to check out Lake Echo and let Ben get out to stretch his legs.

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Lance, Joe, Jeff and Lynsey biking down the mountain  (sort of)

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On the way back to Parker Lance and I stopped to explore the Red Rocks (   Joe and Abby had ridden back with their cousins so we only had the younger 4.  Sam and Elise climbed all over the rock formations until we noticed a small sign saying “no climbing”.  Ooops

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Ben……licking the rock?!?!?!  Well, they just said “no climbing”, they never said anything about licking them!

It was great watching all of the cousins get to know each other again. The older ones took great care of the younger ones and the younger ones adored the older ones. They played checkers, Wii and cards together (and now our family loves to play “I doubt it”).  We had a pool/pizza party together one night and a campfire with s’mores another night. We said good bye to Jeff & Holly and family Thursday night.

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Ben and Wynter with CeCe the bunny

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Rosemary and Avery

Friday we went to visit Focus on the Family with Lance’s parents and sister and then said good bye to them also. That afternoon we drove around a little and decided to go see a lake we saw some signs for, but we made a wrong turn and instead found ourselves heading up a mountain on a narrow dirt road.  Mount Herman is definitely not a fourteener, but we sure had fun exploring when we got to the top!

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See what happens when we let Ben drive??

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Even Rose loves to climb!!

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Joe the Karate Kid

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Abby and Ben

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Lance, always the rebel!!

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My Mountain Men



Home, Sweet Home…

August 7, 2015

No, it’s not what you think…we are still nomads, traveling the country. We have been gone 6 weeks now, but after a couple of nights at a hotel both Lance and I felt like getting back to our camper was coming home. It was a good feeling!!

On Wednesday, July 22nd we set up camp at a Jellystone Park in Caledonia, Wisconsin. We had been on the go for quite a few days in a row so we decided to spend a few nights in one place. If you ever need a place to camp with lots of fun activities right there without having to drive anywhere this place is it!! Water slides, water balloon fights, basketball, mini golf, pools, outdoor movies at night and lots of activities planned for kids. Lance worked for a couple of days while the kids and I enjoyed being busy having fun!!

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Rose the Bathing Beauty

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Sam with a bucket full of ammo…this kid loved the water balloon wars!

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Elise and Rose poolside in their polka dot suits

One thing I have always loved about our neighborhood in Zeeland is the ability to say “Go out and play!” to our kids and knowing that they are busy playing with each other and neighbor kids, getting energy out, enjoying the great outdoors and most importantly (well, it’s up there anyway!!) they are NOT by me!! That might sound mean, but this momma needs a break every now and then and I’m not going to apologize for that! That’s what it was like at the Caledonia Jellystone. They were having so much fun playing basketball, swimming, having water balloon fights and making friends with fellow camping kids that I felt like it was a throwback to when we lived in a house, in a neighborhood. It was pretty fabulous!

Living in West Michigan, we are pretty spoiled with being 20 minutes to the Lake Michigan beach. During a “normal” summer we like to squeeze in as many evenings out at the beach as we can… swimming and playing in the sand….usually followed by a stop for ice cream at Captain Sundae. The sunsets over the lake can be so beautiful to watch and I have often thought “wouldn’t it be nice to see a sunrise over Lake Michigan”. Well, I got my wish! One morning Lance and I got up just before 5:00 to drive a couple of miles from the campground to a park on the Wisconsin shore. We enjoyed a little date with just the two of us, watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan. It was a lovely beginning to our day. We were almost directly across the lake from home, which I found made me a little homesick.

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The beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan

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The blue dot on the map shows where we were watching the sunrise, almost due west of Holland, Michigan

Since we were staying less than two hours away from Chicago we decided to make a stop there. Our family has enjoyed a few great weekends in Chicago over the years and one place that the kids love to eat at is Ed Debevic’s. Well, they are closing (possibly moving) by the end of the year so it seemed like a good idea to have one more special meal there. My parents were able to meet us in Chicago and so we all spent a couple of nights in a hotel near the city. We have missed our dear families and friends the last six weeks so it felt pretty good to see my mom and dad, to talk and laugh face to face with lots of hugs thrown in for good measure! Sunday, July 26th we all went to Moody Church together. We had never been there before, but enjoyed it greatly. After church we had dinner at Ed Debevic’s. If you’ve never been there, it’s a 50’s style diner where the servers are intentionally rude to you. The first time Lance and I took our kids there we didn’t tell them ahead of time about the rudeness, we were curious how they would respond. Well, when Abby started crying because they were so rude to her we right away let them in on the secret! Now, they (especially Sam) like to prepare their material sometimes days in advance.   Although, what 8 year olds consider hilarious sometimes can come across as just kind of corny (like telling our waiter he looks like a pretty girl, where are your hairbands girl?, you smell, you’re smelly, hey…bring me my food now!). Our waiter could take it just as well as he could give it. The kids laughed while being called little brats, brace-face (to Abby) and you bunch of little babies! After lunch we headed to the Shedd Aquarium. We watched the dolphin show, petted the sting rays, watched the penguins swim and saw lots and lots of “nish” (Ben’s word for fish). Then we headed back to the hotel for some swimming in the pool and pizza for supper. It was a great day.

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Joe, Sam and Ben sporting their Ed Debevic’s hats

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Petting Sting Rays at the aquarium

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Ben with “Bapa” and “Mama”

The next morning we left the hotel and that’s when Lance and I both thought “it feels good to be home!” We hugged my parents good bye and took off for Des Moines, Iowa.  On the way we needed to stop for gas and to feed Rosemary at just the right time for a visit to The World’s Largest Truckstop. It was a good place to stretch our legs and we had a lot of fun looking around.

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Ben loved exploring the Big Rigs!

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Rosemary trying on the fur caps

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Sam with this guy behind him…you can’t see him because he’s camouflaged!!

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This was Abby and Sam’s idea….can you spot the Rosemary??

We got to the campground mid-afternoon and set up camp, then headed into town to see the capital building. Up until this point, Kansas had been my favorite capital with the pretty grassy park all around it, but now my favorite is Iowa! The building was so interesting and beautiful to look at and the grounds around it were just as beautiful. There was a grassy slope in front of the capital peppered with various statues and perennial garden beds. If you faced away from the capital building you looked down the hill to the city of Des Moines. It was a pleasant evening and the sun was just starting to set. The stars also seemed to align with the kids playing so sweetly with each other…rolling down the hill and playing hide and seek. It felt like a moment to just soak it all up…family times like this are why we are doing this trip!

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The gorgeous capital building

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The city of Des Moines looking down from the capital.

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The flag of this great nation with a beautiful sunset behind it.  God bless the USA.

We stayed in Des Moines for the one night and then drove on to Kansas City. We stayed there a few nights while Lance worked at a customer there. Our site was in the perfect location in the campground…right between the basketball court/playground and swimming pool/jumping pillow. I loved being able to watch the kids play on the playground out the kitchen window, it seemed like we had the best backyard around!

Well, that’s all for this post…our next stop is Colorado!