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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Garden of the Gods

This past weekend we went on two very different adventures. I've already shared Saturday's urban adventure (which you can see here), so today I'm sharing Sunday's nature adventure.

One of the good things about living in Colorado is that there is a wealth of amazing landscapes right on our doorstep to explore. One of the bad things about living in Colorado is that Summers are incredibly hot, which means that we're yet to explore a lot of these landscapes. On Sunday we decided to brave the heat and head south to Colorado Springs for the first time. While there are a lot of fun things to do and see in and around Colorado Springs, our destination for the day was Garden of the Gods.

I'd been wanting to visit Garden of the Gods for such a long time but we'd never gotten around to it either due to heat, snow or the fact that it gets crazy busy on weekends. Visiting on a weekend during a pandemic probably wasn't the best idea, but I knew that Kim would enjoy visiting there too so I wanted to save our first visit for a time when he could come along too. So we packed our masks, sunscreen and lots of water and hit the road for an afternoon out in nature.


Garden of the Gods is located just a short drive from Colorado Springs, which is about an hour and a quarter south of Denver or an hour and a half from Boulder. The park is easily accessible with several ways to explore. Visitors can park at the main parking lot at the entrance and hike through the park. Alternatively, there is a ring route drive called Juniper Way Loop with parking lots in various locations along the way. We decided to go for the second option - mostly because we missed the entrance to the parking lot and couldn't turn around, but also because there was a chance of a storm coming through in the afternoon and having our car nearby would be handy.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Colfax Canvas Mural Fest

Happy Monday!

Did you do anything exciting over the weekend? We had two very different adventures. I'll be sharing Sunday's adventure tomorrow but first up is Saturday's adventure...

On Saturday Lola, Mathilde and I headed to the Denver neighborhood of Aurora to go on a mural hunt. Aurora is probably the Denver neighborhood that we visit the most. It's not a touristy location with museums or galleries but it is home to Third Culture Bakery, one of our favorite food places from Berkeley. It's a little out of the way coming from Boulder, but we stop by regularly for a little taste of home.

Aurora is also home to lots of amazing street art, and on Saturday the number of murals around the neighborhood increased as part of the Colfax Canvas Mural Fest. You know I love a good mural so when I heard about Colfax Canvas I knew we had to go check it out.

Mural by @pher01
Mural by @love_pulp and @tukeone
Mural by @detour303, @A.L._Grime and @annacharneyart
Mural by @caseykawaguchi
Mural by @rube.zilla
Mural by @Pher01
Mural by @pin.pusher

Monday, 27 July 2020

Yellowstone National Park: West Thumb Geyser Basin

Another day, another Yellowstone post! I hope you're not sick of geysers and hot springs yet! There are still a few more posts to come.

Today's post is all about a place in Yellowstone that I knew nothing of in advance but quickly became one of my favorite stops on our trip. Have you heard of West Thumb Geyser Basin? Weird name right? I'd never heard of it before our trip, but upon reading about it in the information brochure we received at the entry gate I was keen to check it out. Like other geyser basins in Yellowstone, West Thumb is home to plenty of geysers and hot springs, but it's also home to a few features we'd been yet to see including mud geysers and underwater geysers in Yellowstone Lake.

Black Pool
Black Pool
Thumb Paint Pots
Lake Yellowstone with under water geysers
Thumb Paint Pots
Mathilde Walks along the boardwalk
An elk grazes around a hot spring
West Thumb Geyser Basin

We visited West Thumb on our second day in the park. The second day was much colder than the first had been, and as we entered the park the rain that had been continuously falling changed to sleet. By the time we reached West Thumb it had changed again: to snow! Can you believe that? Snow - in Summer! Granted, it was only very light snowfall and it melted as soon as it hit the wet ground, but it was snow none the less.  

Friday, 24 July 2020

Yellowstone National Park: Grand Prismatic Spring & Midway Geyser Basin

I'm back today with more from our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park. As I mentioned in my last post, I took so many photos during our two days in the park that I decided to share just one part of the park per post - instead of spamming you with the world's longest blog post!

My last post focused on Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful geyser, and today's post is all about another popular location in Yellowstone: Grand Prismatic.

Grand Prismatic has long been a popular sight in Yellowstone thanks to it's large size and intense colors. With deep turquoise water flanked by vivid orange it's an awe inspiring sight to see and one of  Yellowstone's instantly recognizable locations. I had been looking forward to seeing Grand Prismatic the most out of everything in Yellowstone (or what I knew of in Yellowstone) in the lead up to this trip. I couldn't wait to see all those stunning colors for myself. 


Now you may remember that the weather wasn't so great during our trip to Yellowstone. All that moisture in the air meant that the geysers and hot springs had more steam coming off them than they would on a clear day. The bigger the hot spring, the more steam rising off it. Given the large size of Grand Prismatic, it had the most steam out of all the geysers and hot springs we saw. 

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Yellowstone National Park: Old Faithful & Upper Geyser Basin

When you think of Yellowstone National Park, what's the first thing that pops into your mind?

Was it Old Faithful? It was, wasn't it?

For many of us, this iconic geyser and Yellowstone are synonymous. With its regular eruptions approximately every 90 minutes or so, Old Faithful has been one of the most popular sights in Yellowstone since the area was established as the country's first National Park back in 1872.

Old Faithful erupting in front of Old Faithful Inn

As spectacular as Old Faithful is, it's not the only magical sight in the Upper Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone where it can be found. In fact, Upper Geyser Basin alone is home to hundreds of geysers and hot springs. The area is set up with boardwalks from which visitors can safely explore, and no matter which way you look you're sure to spot a geothermal wonder of some sort. Steaming geysers, deep and still turquoise pools, bubbling crater-like pits, steam rising from the ground, mud and rocks in vivid colors... there's so much more to see here than just Old Faithful.

Boardwalks lead visitors past geysers and hot springs, and over the Firehole River
Blue Star Spring
Belgian Pool
Crested Pool

So, let's take a look at what you can expect to see in Upper Geyser Basin...

Thursday, 16 July 2020

DIY Kawaii Plant Labels for the Veggie Patch

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things I've been most excited about having our own house is being able to plant a veggie patch again.

You may remember that we had a plot in our local community garden when we lived in Berkeley, but as great as that was, there's nothing quite like having fresh veggies, herbs and fruit growing right outside your back door. Walking out the back door to pick herbs for a last minute addition to dinner is convenient. Walking to the park at night to do the same; not so much. So finally having our own garden space, in our yard, was a dream come true.

By the time we were settled into our new house last year it was too late in the season to start growing a veggie patch, so we had to wait until Spring rolled around to start our garden. And by Spring, I mean mid-May as it's not uncommon for it to snow here up until early May! While we waited for consistently warm days to arrive to get planting, I got to work building garden beds, filling them with soil, paving between the beds with pebbles and working on our compost bin.

I also got to work thinking about all the little finishing touches, like plant labels. Sure, I could've just stuck with the labels that came with each of my seedling plants, but why do that when you can make something cute? The kids LOVE everything Kawaii at the moment, so I had the idea of making cutesy Kawaii plant labels. Little fruits and veggies with happy little faces smiling up at me from the veggie patch. A little touch to make the veggie garden an even happier place.


Aren't they cute?

Making my kawaii plant labels was a breeze thanks to my handy little Cricut Joy. First I designed the various fruits and veggies in Photoshop (that was the hardest part) and then I cut them out on permanent Smart Vinyl with my Cricut Joy before sticking them onto bamboo plant labels. Easy peasy!

With no need for a cutting mat, Cricut Smart Vinyl is such an easy to use product for projects like this. No need to line it up perfectly on a cutting mat. Just load the Smart Vinyl into the Cricut Joy and you're done! The Smart Vinyl used here adheres permanently and is water proof making it perfect for use in the garden.

If you'd like to make your own kawaii plant labels follow the simple instructions below. I've made it even easier for you by sharing my designs on the Cricut Design Space, so you won't need to spend time designing them.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Last weekend we packed our bags, loaded up our car, and did something we haven't done in an awfully long time. We went on vacation!

Like most of you we've been at home since early March, pretty much only venturing out to the supermarket or for walks around the neighborhood (and more recently a few mask clad trips to Denver Zoo and a Denver Selfie Museum which reopened with strict social distancing rules). 

We've missed a few planned trips in those months including Spring Break in Chicago, Ava's school trip to Washington DC (I'm most bummed about that one), and smaller weekend getaways that we'd planned here in Colorado before the weather warmed up too much. I had pretty much written off Summer when it came to travel, but then I saw that local friends had visited Yellowstone National Park a few weeks back and it was pretty much empty. I knew that the opportunity to visit one of our bucket list destinations without the crowds was probably not going to come up again any time soon, so right away I got online and booked a hotel. I can't tell you how excited I was making that booking after so long!

Now that we're in Colorado, Wyoming is just over an hour away from our home but we had been yet to head north across the border. Yellowstone National Park is located at the very top of the state, but at around an eight hour drive, it's an easy destination for a road trip from Boulder (or Denver). It's also an easy drive from cities in neighboring states including Idaho, Utah, Washington, Montana and Nebraska. When looking at the map I realized that my friend Lindsey, who lives in Spokane, Washington, was a similar distance away making Yellowstone the perfect meeting point for a catch up. A little last minute planning, and both our families were booked in for a trip to Wyoming!
Last Saturday we hit the road and headed to the idyllic mountain town of Jackson, where we based ourselves for our visit to Yellowstone National Park. Jackson is located about an hour away from the south entry of Yellowstone. It's a handy spot to use as a base, especially now while the hotels inside the national park are closed due to COVID. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Our Visit to Denver Selfie Museum

Things are slowly opening up again here in Colorado which means that we've been able to get out and about a little - with masks and social distancing, of course.

Most attractions that have opened up again are mostly outside locations (National Parks, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens...) but a few indoor locations have opened up with strict social distancing rules in place.

One such place that has opened and we visited recently was the Denver Selfie Museum.

Ok, I know... a selfie museum? It sounds a little, well, self indulgent and egotistical, but hear me out. Yes, the Denver Selfie Museum is a great place to take fun selfies (or pics of your kids in my case), but it's also a fun place to see some really cool immersive art. 

If you've been following Little Hiccups for a while you'll know that I'm a big fan of immersive art experiences, and the Denver Selfie Museum fits this description perfectly. It's smaller than Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Camp Christmas, LMNL and other similar museums we've visited in the past, but that was part of the charm to me. We were able to see all of the displays in just over an hour making it a short, but sweet outing.

Now, you're probably wondering just how we managed to visit a museum while social distancing. Like most immersive art experiences, entry is only by timed ticket. With social distancing measures in place, only a small number of guests were allowed in at a time. It just so happened that visiting on a week day, we had the entire place to ourselves for much of our visit. When other guests did arrive we made sure to keep our distance and wore our masks when required. As an extra precaution, some of the hands on experiences were off limits. For example, the ball pit (which the kids were looking forward to) was understandably closed, and there were a few props that we were asked not to touch.

Ok, enough talking, let's look at some pictures...


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Found! The Perfect Shoes for Backyard Adventures

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Critts

We're lucky to have quite a large backyard at our house here in Colorado, especially while we're all at home all day at the moment. The space we have means we've been able to put in lots of fun things for the kids including swings, a climbing structure and a trampoline. We've also been able to plant a veggie garden at home for the first time in almost a decade. 

Lola on swing
Lola in veggie garden
 
But, while our yard has plenty of room for all these things, there's one thing that's not so fun about it: the hard and lumpy ground! Our grass might look lush and green, but the clay soil underneath it is so hard and lumpy that it rather hurts to walk on without shoes. The landscaped areas of our yard aren't much better with either river rocks (which aren't all smooth), sharp and scratchy bark, or thick ground covering conifer plants. Heading out into the backyard to play or do a little gardening always means grabbing a pair of shoes first.

Now, putting on a pair of shoes to walk out to the trampoline or swings wouldn't be too much of a problem if my kids wore flip flops or some other sort of easy to slide on shoes that we could keep by the back door. Nope, not my kids! Neither Lola or Mathilde will wear flip flops, even for just walking out to the trampoline. They want to wear something covered which means they always end up wearing their regular shoes - and that means putting socks on first too because they refuse to wear shoes without socks. 

When it comes to slip on options for my kids, I hadn't had much luck finding anything that worked for them. Crocs seem like a good idea, but they're incredibly wide and never stay on. I usually wear clogs when I go out into the backyard, but the hard soles aren't so comfy for little feet. Plus my kids usually struggle to keep their feet in clog-like shoes unless there's a back - and then they want socks. 

I finally found a solution when I came across Critts.  

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Visiting Boulder's Iris Farm

The first official week of Summer Break and we had our first official outing of the season - and our first time out exploring in god only knows how long!

Now that the weather has warmed up, things are looking very much like Spring (or Summer) here in the Boulder Valley. Trees that were bare just a month ago are green, lawns and grass areas are lush, and every second garden in our neighborhood is filled with colorful flowers. The two most common flowers here seem to be irises in a range of colors, and vivid orange poppies. And when I say these flowers are common, I mean they are everywhere.

I've never lived in a place where everyone seems to plant the same flowers in their garden so it got me wondering about just why these two flowers are everywhere. Sure, they're pretty, but there are lots of other pretty flowers out there too. They obviously grow well here, but that still wasn't really the answer I was looking for. After digging a little deeper I learned about Boulder's history with irises and a small flower farm right in the city.

Long's Gardens is a small flower farm located on Broadway in a neighborhood full of houses, recreation centers and parks. Not really where you'd expect to find a farm, but it has been there ever since 1905. For much of that time Long's Gardens has been growing a variety of irises, providing beautiful blooming plants to the Boulder Valley.


Long's Gardens is a private property, but they open their farm up to the public during the flowering season, from April to June. Most years, they offer "u-dig" sales during this time, with customers able to choose their own iris plants from the field, dig them up to purchase, and grow them at home. Kind of like the flower equivalent of apple picking! This year, due to COVID, Long's Gardens is not offering their "u-dig" or direct sales from their office. Their iris fields are still open to the public for viewing only, and that's what we did yesterday.

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