Long story short, the place we had booked way back in March this year, the place that we had pictured ourselves living in for months, the place we loved so much – was no longer an option for a long-term rental.
We found this out the day we moved out of our condo in Ft Myers Beach back in July. So, the whole time we were at SeaWorld, Disney, Madeira Beach, traveling through Texas to Denver – we didn’t have a signed lease or a permanent place to live.
Lucky for us we were able to find another wonderful place just 2 blocks away and even a few steps closer to Zoe’s school. But, we didn’t finalize it all until we arrived in Breck. It was a nerve-wracking way to spend a few weeks to say the least.
Our first week or so was spent exploring the town as a family. We walked down to the Riverwalk area just off Main Street and let the kids wade in the Blue River, or as they now call it, “Super Cold River”.
It also just happened to be the inaugural Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) put on by BreckCreate.org. It was a 10-day long festival that had live bands every night just a couple blocks from where we were living. The kids loved dancing and running around in front of the stage almost every night.
The other cool thing was that the trunks and branches of a number of the aspen trees around town were painted blue. It was to raise awareness of the deforestation that his happening across Colorado – and the “paint” used was safe for the trees. Zoe and Alex loved pointing them out every chance they got.
We also started the kids on some beginner hiking trails around Breck. They loved being outside, finding pine cones, picking up walking sticks and walking through the trees. You could especially tell Alex loved it as he would talk non-stop for the entire hike, which could be up to 2 hours long!
One of the days we took the gondola up the Breckenridge mountains from downtown. It took us to Peak 8 where they have a summer activitiy area. Each of us got the day pass and we were off to explore the mountain. There were bouncy houses, super trampolines, putt putt golf, MTV’s Dan Cortez, a maze, a scenic chairlift to the top of Peak 8, and the kid’s favorite – panning for gemstones. It was a great way to introduce them to the fun we will have in Breck.
As if that wasn’t enough, Breckenridge also hosted a section of the USA Pro Challenge – a bicycle race from Vail to Breck. The whole town was shut down and the finish line was on Main Street just a block from our place. We spent the morning exploring the exhibit area where the kids tried Cliff bars, saw stunt bicyclists, they hula hooped, and even got to try out their own skills on Strider balance bikes on an obstacle course.
In the afternoon, we watched the racers from the finish line. We pounded on the barriers, rang our mini cow bells and cheered on the riders as they flew by us. It was all very exciting for us and the kids. Seems there is never a dull moment in Breck.
Kelly and I were even able to find a babysitter so we could go to the Breck Beer Fest one Saturday. There were over 50 breweries from across Colorado and beyond handing out samples of their best beers. My brother Dustin also joined us a bit later after a mountain bike ride. It was a perfect sunny day and the beer was great. Dustin even let us stay later and went back home to watch the kids!
On Labor Day weekend, we went down to the Riverwalk area again to watch the Great Rubber Duck Race. We’d purchased a couple of ducks for Zoe and Alex for the kids race. There were over 800 ducks in the kids race and we had fun cheering them on as they came to the finish line. Neither of them won, but they were able to go get their rubber ducky afterward. Kelly and I entered into the big race where over 11,000 ducks were dumped into the river. We didn’t win either, but it was a great day spent outdoors with the kids.
Another thing we did in our early days was set up playdates for Zoe and Alex – through the power of facebook. Both of them have been extremely resillient through all of the changes during the summer. We wanted to keep in that way so we met up with some other parents with kids at the parks. We met some really nice families and are looking forward to meeting even more.
Start of School
During our second week in Breck, it was time for the kids to start school. It was with mixed feelings that we prepared for this week. On one hand, Kelly and I needed a break. We had been with Zoe and Alex almost every moment for 4 months now. And, while rewarding – it was also time for some distance. On the other hand, we were used to them being around and sharing each moment of our day with them. We were going to miss them like crazy the first few days of school.
Alex was the first to start on a Tuesday morning. We toured the school the day before to familiarize him. He is going to be at a Montessori school 3 days a week (2 of those being ½ days). The school seems perfect for him as his favorite things are cleaning, cooking, and doing things on his own in general – just what they let them do at his new school. As he would say… “my school is awesome”.
Zoe started kindergarten the next day. She was admittedly nervous, but we found out the day before that one of her new friends she had a play date with was in her class. That made it easier for both of them to hold hands, smile and wave to us as she went in. Also, her teacher’s name was ironcially Ms. Kelley. Guess it was meant to be!
So far the kids are doing great in school. They are making friends, getting good feedback from their teachers, and are just generally happy. We can’t believe Zoe is a kindergartner and Alex is in school 3 days a week, but they were ready. Even if Kelly and I weren’t.
After the first week of school, we put the kids through their final big change for now – moving house one more time. We were able to move into our long-term rental as of Monday, August 31st. Zoe was in school, so Alex was our little helper.
The moving of our stuff wasn’t too bad as our landlords were great to let us store some boxes in the basement (thanks Phil and Diane!). So, that meant our remaining clothes and other few items needed to make the 2 block trip up the road. That was the easy part.
The hard part was unpacking it all. It is amazing how much stuff you have when you think you don’t have any stuff. It took the better part of the week to figure out where to put everthing.
We also didn’t do ourselves any favors by making some furniture changes in the rental house. We put a futon in the basement for guests, made the basement space into a kids playroom, bought a new couch and rug for the living room, hung new shower curtains, etc.
It took some work, but in the end we feel like we made it our own. We are home… finally!