After saying goodbye to our friends Richie, Katy and their two kids – Chloe and Ollie, we hit the road on Saturday, August 8th – Just as we’d planned and exactly 3 months since arriving in Florida.
Our plan was similar to the one going down to Florida from Chicago – break up the trip into manageable chunks along the way:
- Day 1: Make it halfway to Austin, Texas – someplace in Louisiana
- Day 2: Drive to our friends Tim and Andrea’s house in Austin and stay a couple of nights.
- Day 4: Head toward Denver and go as long as we could – stop in New Mexico?
- Day 5: Make the final drive to my brother Dustin’s house in Denver for 3 nights
- Day 8: Arrive in Breckenridge and start living the dream!
Overall, we stuck to plan with a few exceptions. Since we were headed for Austin, Texas we drove across the southern states – many of which we hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, the interstate was carved out through trees, so we felt like we were in a tunnel most of the trip and didn’t see much; except for the occasional bridge, etc.
We also hit some torrential rain as we left Florida and again in Mississippi. So, we called it a day after 8 hours in the car near Gulfport, Mississippi. We found a nice hotel with a pool for the kids and got some much needed sleep.
This meant that the next day we needed to make up some time, so we hit the road early. As we hit the Texas border we noticed a few things.
- The speed limit increased to 75 mph.
- Half of the Texans drove over 90 mph.
- The other half drove 60 mph – in the left lane.
- Everyone’s blinkers were broken.
- We hate Texas drivers.
After another 9 hours of driving, we finally arrived at our friend’s place. We were visiting my college buddy Tim, his wife Andrea and their four children – Claire, Oliver, Fiona and Alistair.
We were greeted with comfortable beds, homemade pizza, and the most well behaved kids on the planet. After the long day, we happily called it an early night and saved the fun for the next day.
We woke up to the hottest day we’d had all summer! I guess everything IS bigger in Texas, including the mercury in the temperature gauge. Thankfully, we planned a pool day to stay cool. The kids jumped right in and all of them had a blast swimming, shooting squirt guns and trying out the snorkel gear.
After a few hours in the sun, we went back to the house to let the kids get some rest and recharge for the evening. That night the kids started a dance party in the living room. Everyone seemed to have a favorite song and signature move!
The kids ate before the adults so we could enjoy ourselves after they went to sleep. We had a few cocktails, ate some of the best gyros we’ve ever had, and washed it down with a couple bottles of wine. It was great catching up with old friends that we just don’t see often enough.
Denver or Bust
The next day, feeling a bit hungover truthfully, we loaded up our trusty White Shadow again and hit the road by 7:30 AM. We
changed our plans – Denver or bust in ONE DAY.
We’d had enough of road tripping so we set our GPS for Denver. 9 hours later – we were still in Texas. Not because something went wrong, but because that’s how damn big Texas is!
14 hours later we finally made it to my brother Dustin and his girlfiend Lara’s place in Denver. We felt accomplished. We felt excited to be in Colorado. But mostly, we felt TIRED. We unloaded the car, had a beer and went to sleep.
Taking time to acclimate to altitude
Kelly and I had both experienced some altitude sickness during previous ski vacations to Colorado, so we wanted to spend a few days in Denver not only for ourselves, but also for the kids. We weren’t sure how they’d react to their new home at 9,600 feet in Breckenridge.
Especially after coming from 0 feet in Florida!
So we took it easy our first day in Denver. We slept in. We walked Dustin and Lara’s dog, Maverick (Mav) at the nearby City Park. And we began the monumental task of going through all of our stuff.
Remember that 6 x 8 foot trailer we packed up back in Highland Park? Yep, it had made its way to my brother’s basement (thanks Dad, Dust & Lara!). We’d survived 3 months without it all, but it was time to peel back the lids and see what remained.
It took the full three days (off and on) of re-deciding if we needed this item or that item. One thing was clear to us though. Even though we’d purged most of our items – clothes were the culprit! Especially for the kids who are between sizes and between the weather seasons.
We did have some fun too, of course. Dustin and Lara took us to Vine Street Brewpub for dinner one night and we shared our previous month of adventures over late night, quality, Colorado brewed beers!
We also stayed overnight on Thursday at Kelly’s cousin Kim’s house – also in Denver. It was strange packing such a small bag and driving only 15 minutes to get to a destination – a welcomed change!
Kim and her husband Mike treated us to some good BBQ food from a local restaurant that was delicious. The kids had fun running around their big house and playing at the schoolyard playground just half a block away.
The next day we swam at their community pool, which was a lot of fun. It had large, palm tree shaped sprinklers that they kids loved splashing around in. It was obvious we weren’t in southwest Florida anymore. It was warm in the sun but the base temp of 80 degrees wasn’t what we were used to.
It was fun catching up with Mike and Kim. It made us realize even more that we had arrived in Colorado. But, more importantly that we already had family here and weren’t alone!
Moving to the Mountains
Finally the day arrived – Saturday, August 15th. We loaded up White Shadow again – we even threw in a few boxes in my brother’s Jeep – and set our sights on Breckenridge!
Our first stop was an alpine slide just outside of Golden, Colorado at Heritage Square. The kids were really excited as we started our drive out of Denver and you could start to see the Front Range Mountains. They loved the alpine slide too as we got to go up a chair lift and ride “super fast” down the mountain.
After the slide we drove to Mountain Toad Brewery near downtown Golden. We sat in the courtyard trying some of their great beers and waiting for the food truck to open for lunch.
After lunch it was the final push. We were about 1 hour or so from our new home. As we drove up we were looking forward to seeing the kids reaction to the big peaks, driving through long tunnels and seeing snow on tops of the mountains.
Well, we didn’t get any of that because the both fell asleep!!! We couldn’t blame them. It had been a long adventure up to this point. We were all tired, but as we pulled into Breckenridge – we were home.