Thursday, August 05, 2010

Vacation!!! - Glenwood Springs, Colorado

On July 28, the alarm blared at 3 AM. We'd packed up the night before and were ready to hit the road. Within a few minutes, and without any complaining, grumbling or problems of any kind, we were all packed in the van and headed to the train station in downtown Salt Lake.
The kids have been bubbling with excitement for the past week, so I was surprised they actually slept the night before...and more surprised that they actually woke up with as much energy as they did.

Lynette's dad works for Amtrak and had warned us that the trains are VERY frequently late...sometimes by many hours. But we lucked out and everything was running on time.
He was working that night/morning and the kids were excited to see him at the station. We got checked in quickly and even got some bonus cookies that Grandpa had behind the counter. By shortly after 4 AM, we were on the train and headed southeast to Glenwood Springs.

The nearly 9 hour trip went very well especially considering we were traveling with 3 young, overtired children. We had hoped they'd fall asleep for at least the first few hours, but they were too hyped up for any rest. Instead they played games on the iPad I had brought (thanks Greg). Aunt Karla had brought travel Uno and the kids also had a few books and things to keep them occupied. Once the sun came up, there was no hope of sleep, so we focused on scenery, games, and wandering the train.

We arrived in Glenwood Springs at about 1PM. The hotel was only ~2 blocks from the station, but with our bags (and dragging from lack of sleep) we called for the hotel shuttle. We stayed in the Hotel Colorado which is a very cool looking hotel. We could see the towers looming from across the river with flags flying atop each one. The lobby was gorgeous and the staff was super helpful. On arriving, we learned that the rooms were still being clean. We were given the option of a smaller room on the forth floor or waiting until ~4 to check into the room on the 2nd floor. We putting our bags in a side room and going off for a walk around town.

Glenwood Springs is a tourist town in a gorgeous valley. It was warm but overcast, so not too bad. The biggest, most prominent attraction (and the one the kids were most excited about) is the Hot Springs Pool. To get to the main heart of downtown, we had to cross a bridge over the river and train tracks. To the east of the river is a fabulous view of the pool. Unfortunately, we had a few hours to wait before checkin so we couldn't swim yet...which bummed the kids out.

Downtown Glenwood Springs is pretty cool. Tons of cute little shops...some very touristy, others just fun and interesting. The kids loved the rock shop and the indian shop. I pointed out the sign showing where Doc Holliday had died, but they weren't very impressed (I guess I need to get them schooled up on Wild West history).

I think we stopped in most of the "main" downtown shops. We also hit all 3 of the bookstores we found and picked up some cool finds. There were some great restaurants around town. On breakfast our first day we went to a little Bavarian place which tasted great but was quite pricey (our breakfast meal ended up costing more than some of our dinners). Jason absolutely LOVED Rib City. Friday night, after a long day of swimming, we went looking for the Italian Underground which had great reviews. The food was wonderful and well priced. The wait was WAY long which was especially hard on the kids and by the end of the meal Julia had melted down and needed to go back to the hotel. I'd recommend the place but you should plan ahead for the wait. There was a great New York Pizza place (Russo's NY pizza) that we took the bus too. The pizza was amazing! So good. What was funny was that many of the meals we just went to Village Inn or KFC. Familiarity reins supreme. :)

Eventually we checked into our hotel, unpacked, cleaned up a bit and went to dinner. It was late enough in the day that we didn't really want to pay the pool fee for just a couple of spite of all the pleading and begging from the kids. So we just relaxed and went to bed VERY early. At first the kids complained, but then the tired kicked in and everybody was out.

The rest of the vacation was largely day after day of almost the same thing. We'd wake up each morning around 8 and head for breakfast. After breakfast, we changed into pool gear and hit the pool. We'd break for lunch in early afternoon then return and stay through late evening before leaving the pool for dinner and bed.

The pool is amazing! Wonderful! Soooo relaxing! Karla had come along so we had one adult for each child which helped keep things nice and relaxed. Even though the kids have had swim lessons and even though the mineral pool increased boyancy, we still didn't really trust them to swim alone, especially considering the size of the pool.

The "Therapy Pool" was ~100+ degrees and felt so good. A number of benches lined the walls of the pool and one side of the pool had "whirlpool chairs" where you could drop a quarter in and get a bubbly massage.

The main pool was ~90 degrees and felt fabulous as well. It was huge...ranging from a wading depth of 2-3 feet down to a diving depth of 12 feet. The kids perfected their underwater front flips and back flips. They had tons of fun swimming to the bottom for various objects. Jason tried the diving board once or twice but left it in search of other fun.

At the far end a pair of water slides topped off the fun. The first day, we did a punch pass to see which of the kids would be up for the waterslides...and all three of them loved them, so the next day we got "all day slide passes" for them. Even the youngest had a great time on the slide in spite of the water rushing into her face as she rushed through the enclosed slide.

We kept ourselves slathered up with 100+ SPF sunblock. We all got a little bit pink (Karla got it the worst) but nobody came away with a painful/debilitating burn. There were a few minor bumps and scrapes from the waterslide...and our camera suffered a fatality (yes, the one day I took the camera to get pictures at the pool, I forgot that it was in my swimsuit pocket and it had a lovely mineral soak along with us...oops, apparently cameras don't like being in 100+ degree mineral water, who knew?), but other than that, we came away completely unscathed.

While the pool is the biggest attraction (especially for kids), there are other things to see around the area. We gave the kids the option of some of the other attractions...asking if they'd like to go rafting in the river, take the gondola ride to the top of the mountain and do a zipline, hike to the Glenwood Caverns, hike to Doc Holliday's grave, rent bikes...nope, they just wanted the pool. Which was fine. I'll have to make a trip back later to do some rafting or hiking or whatever.

Check out on our final day was at 11. Our train was supposed to leave around 1 but after lunch we found that it was delayed ~5 hours due to bad weather to the east. We were all packed, so a half day at the pool was out. So we just relaxed and wandered the town casually...spent some time on the patio with cool drinks and just tried to relax. The train ended up leaving around 6:30 and we settled in for the long trip home. Rain and flash flood warnings kept us going slower than normal. Fortunately the kids were tuckered out so they fell asleep around 9 or 10.
We were back in Salt Lake a little before 4 but the eastbound train had already arrived the station so we had to wait for it to leave before we could go in...which meant we didn't get off the train until ~4:30 and didn't get home until a little after 5. The kids went right to sleep but, like the roosters they are, they had us up and bouncing around a few hours after sunup.

Back in Utah we took advantage of the rest of my time off hanging out as a fam....Julia wanted a "princess cup" so we made a trip down to the Disney Store. I'd purchased some discount gift certificates to Sub Zero Ice Cream so we made a stop there and the kids were super excited to see their own custom flavor of ice cream made for them on the spot.

All in all, it was a fabulous vacation. The long train trip left us a little tired, but it was a super cool experience. And the calm, relaxing tone of Glenwood Springs (along with the soothing hot springs pool) left us all feeling great.

Thanks fam for a great vacation. Let's do it again soon. :)


Lisa Moore said...

I don't think I'd ever even heard of Glenwood Springs but it sounds awesome! Glad you all had a good time and thanks for the postcard!

Mariam Hakim said...

Looks like you had a lovely vacation! Thanks a lot for checking my blog out, come back soon! x

Anonymous said...

Oh what great photos! Colorado is a beautiful state.

Okie said...

@Lisa - I didn't know about it until ~15 years ago driving to see Miss Saigon in Denver. Lynette and I made a quick pit stop in Glenwood and hiked up to Doc Holliday's grave. Every once in a while we talked about going back and hitting the pool. Finally did. :)

@Mariam & J. - Thanks. It was a great time and Colorado definitely is beautiful. :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

What fun! And what great pictures!