First, hello!!! We have had a summer-fun filled summer – an old school throw back mostly schedule-free summer with a dose of travel for good measure. And, I will be the first to admit, while I am ready for a break from my Snow Happy kids, I am sad to see summer slip away with the return to school and schedules and lunches, and well, you know the rest.
While we are baring our souls here (please keep this between us) I can’t really say I have spent a lot of time dreaming of winter and skiing. I know, doesn’t seem right, but if I bring anything here, it is humility and honesty! So, to soften the blow during this time of transition, I wanted to relive our summer adventures! Maybe it will give you some ideas for your next summer.
The way we do summer in this family (because of this lovely flexible writing gig I’ve got going here) is laid back, kids running all over the neighborhood, bikes strewn in the cul-de-sac, feeding an army, a lifetime supply of popsicles, staying up late, fire pit, and I could go on. We throw in a camp or two, well-placed trips and daily visits to the pool and there you have it! Snow Happy for us in the summer is keeping things as simple as possible.
On Memorial Day, the four of us hopped a flight to Belize City for a relaxing 6 days on Ambergris Caye and it was incredible! There are a lot of flight options into Belize City, and after a quick 15 minute puddle-jumper to San Pedro, followed by a 15 minute boat ride, we arrived in paradise. We stayed at a small, locally owned resort called Portofino Resort .
We were greeted by staff at the docks where they took our bags and gave us a tour of the small property. Everything was incredibly lush, lots of trees for shade, a lovely pool, small beachfront, restaurant and bar. The staff were so incredibly friendly and went out of their way to make everyone comfortable. Our lazy days were spent pool or beach side, fishing, snorkeling (both a 10 minute boat ride out to the reef), and golf-carting to area restaurants. It was bliss!
The rest of June entailed lots of running down the street back and forth to friends houses, biking, eating cold treats, and many, many pool days. We found our next adventure at Great National Sand Dunes Park in Colorado. The kids and I took off on a Monday morning for the roughly 3 1/2 hour drive. It is a beautiful drive, with a lot of options for stops, including Buena Vista, Salida, Mount Princeton Hot Springs, and Poncha Springs. We opted to stop in Buena Vista and had a delicious lunch at Simple Eatery. They had a range of healthy tasty options and fresh baked bread…we may have grabbed a loaf or 2 of chocolate chip pumpkin bread for camping. Maybe.
The sand dunes make for a really fun-filled family adventure if you find yourself with a few days to spare with the kids. Given how hot and busy it can get, I recommend an April or May visit and going during the week, especially because this is when the Medano Creek flows and it is truly a highlight of the park. This year happened to offer a really high flow given the snow pack from our super snowy winter and the kids were able to tube in the creek! The main attraction is obviously the dunes themselves, which I was blown away by. If you decide to go, stop at the Oasis Campground right outside the park, (where we happened to stay) and rent sand sleds and sand boards for riding the dunes – yep, that’s a thing! When there is no snow, there is sand.
We rounded out our trip with a visit to – wait for it – Colorado Gators. And no, it’s not a minor league sports team in the San Luis Valley. This odd and cool “zoo/rescue” is home to alligators, lizards, snakes, tortoise and fish. Most of the animals there are rescues from homes where someone thought an 8 foot lizard or an alligator would be a good idea for a pet. We held a baby alligator and marveled over how old and how large a gator can get. After, we made the 1.5 drive to Salida for lunch and the park. It’s a neat town on the Arkansas River, complete with restaurants, art galleries and biking galore. For a hearty and flavor-filled sandwich, opt for Sweeties. You will leave satisfied (er, stuffed) so walk toward the river for a visit to the city playground before heading back to the Front Range.
The following week, both our 6 and 8 1/2 year old had an absolute blast skiing. That’s right, skiing in June! If you are visiting the Denver area or live here, please please please head to Snobahn for some indoor skiing and freestyle park. It’s great for both kids and adults alike AND they host parent’s night out if you need a date night!
As you might have sensed a pattern by now, we spent the rest of June and July (all together now) at the pool! But, summer just wouldn’t be summer without a trip to Pawleys Island, SC, for some beach time. It is one of our favorite places to relax, enjoy being on the water, eating amazing food and spending time with family.
After a mellow 2 weeks there, we hopped a plane for NYC for a completely different vibe and a family wedding. With a home base in Harlem, we made it our job to see nearly every inch of Central Park, including it’s numerous playgrounds, the Apollo, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, the 9/11 Memorial and rode many a train and ferry.
It seems like a lot to write it all down, but our summer had a lovely pace. We love adventuring and seeing new places just as much as we cherish slowing it down and savoring the time together. Now, it’s back to full-speed ahead as we brave back to school time and kids’ activities, where slowing down is left to the seemingly evasive weekends. We definitely found our Snow Happy this summer and will continue to do so even as life transitions into a less-simple time, by finding joy not only in winter, but all around! Be Snow Happy, friends!