I am very proud of my home, both the home I’ve made with my husband and all the wonderful things in Colorado that Nebraska just doesn’t have. (No I am not talking about legalized marijuana. 😛 )
And last week I got my chance. My youngest brother, *J came out for a visit with his parents (my dad and stepmom), and we all had a great time!
I was excited to have them stay with us – to show J our house and take him to some of our favorite haunts. The day they got in everyone just took it easy and hung out, talking at our place. Which is ideal for me with my hearing. Then we went to our favorite local barbecue place. It’s a hole in the wall, but aren’t those the best?
J is really into hot wings and they have AWESOME wings so we thought that if there was one place we had to take them to, it would be that place. The next day was J’s swim meet, which was the “official” reason for the trip in the first place. With him in Omaha and me here, I have never been able to watch him swim, and I loved seeing it live instead of a video on my stepmom’s phone or on Facebook. It was fun (and I brought some magazines to read between his events so I did okay).
After the meet we went up to Estes Park. (If you follow my blog then you know all about my past adventures at Estes Park. But if you don’t or need a reminder feel free to check them out here, here and here.) We met my husband Roy who had to work (it was Friday) and ate at one of our favorite places, Poppy’s Pizza. Then we walked around town and looked into a few shops before getting some ice cream and calling it a night.
The next day, Roy and I met them up in Estes Park for breakfast. (They rented a condo and stayed the night.) Breakfast was at a new place (new for us, but it’s been there awhile) and OMG – amazing. Banana bread French toast – yes please! After breakfast we went to Rocky Mountain National Park and drove along Trail Ridge Road, enjoying all the overlooks and scenery before trying a trail ourselves. We did Bear Lake because it’s short, easy and absolutely gorgeous. But we didn’t account for the snow that was still there. We didn’t see it until it was too late… Because it only covered half the lake. The trail was no less beautiful or enjoyable, but it took longer and was not necessarily the easy trail we envisioned. My brother was sweet though and helped me up snow piles where it was really slick because I forgot my hiking shoes, while my dad helped my stepmom and Roy brought up the rear.
That night we tried a place Roy and I have always passed but have never tried. And wow were we missing out! Dinner was great and then it was more shop-exploring (chocolates, fudge, hot sauce, toffee and a cookie may or may not have been purchased… oh please you know they totally were :P) and then we called it a night. But this time we stayed at their condo with them because they had an extra bedroom they didn’t know about before they checked in.
The next day we were off to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which was something I was absolutely dreading. Because I’ve been there and hated it. It’s a rollercoaster park on top of a mountain and the only way to get there is in this clear (as in you can see all-the-way-freaking-down) small six-person tram car that goes up the mountain. And then once at the top it’s nothing but high thrill rides and sheer drops because the park is at the top of a small mountain! I knew I would hate it (I’m just a little – A LOT – afraid of heights), but wanted to do it for J, who is a rollercoaster junkie. I was the official bag person who held everyone’s stuff while they went on all the rides. It was as bad as I imagined, and even though I wore sunscreen, being so high in the blistering sun – I got burned to boot!
But then when the day was over I got wonderful news (that is for another post) and we went out to dinner to celebrate. I bought way too many chocolate truffles and we made the journey home.
On Monday we went to my favorite (and in my stepmom’s words, “My new favorite!”) Mexican and seafood restaurant (another hole in the wall, again these are the best kind). Then we all did our own thing until that evening when Roy and I took J to see X-Men: Apocalypse. It was nice “brother time” and J and I loved the movie. (Roy has no taste so you can imagine how he felt about it.)
On their last day I took my stepmom out to my favorite nearby coffee place (we have very similar drink tastes) and then they went go-carting while I made pizza. (The dough takes about five hours, dough and sauce are all made from scratch.) I also baked some chocolate cayenne-chili cupcakes (also from scratch) and cream cheese frosting (you know what I’m going to say). When my stepmom and I were at the store it was so funny because when I went to get ingredients like mushrooms she went for the canned stuff. She said to everyone later that night, “Danny just looked at me and said ‘We get fresh stuff’ and I’m so glad we did!”
We grilled pizza and enjoyed cupcakes before turning in.
The next day, it was time to say goodbye and they left before ten in the morning (they drove, and it is a drive). I already miss them but am so happy about the visit, which was just perfect. I hope I can lure my other siblings out here sometime (two more brothers and a sister, all younger than me, they’re all eighteen to twenty-seven – J is fifteen). It was just nice and a lot less stressful than it could have been. (I’m a stress magnet, it doesn’t take much to get me there, but I think family/in-law visits can be like that for everyone, not just stress balls like me.)
I know they had a great time too, and can’t wait to see them later this summer when it is our turn to visit them in Nebraska for a week!
I think this trip for me was mostly about my brother. With the crazy age differences and me being on my own since I was fifteen, I didn’t get that quality brother time growing up, and I have great siblings. We never fought with each other or anything like that. So it’s nice to play catch-up and make up for that lost brother time. Because I do love all of my siblings and relish any time I can be with them.
Yay for last-minute visits and sibling quality time! And yes to Estes Park and all the fun things we did that had something for everyone. Oh and good (spicy! J and I are both all about the spice, we’re the only ones in the family who are) food. Lots of that.
I can’t wait to see everyone again later this summer! Until then, that is all for family visits. So here is one happy brother, signing off! 😉