Family Vacation – 6/3/2023

We started our family vacation this year from Kansas City. We were in town for my mother’s funeral and left the day after. It was the strangest way I’ve ever started a vacation and something I hope never happens again.

I remember driving down I-70 just before Topeka, KS when I got a call from dad. He asked if we wanted to come over for lunch. Somebody had sent a large tray of Goodcents subs and there was no way they could eat it all. I declined the offer as we were already almost an hour outside of town. But we did search and find a Goodcents in Topeka to stop at for lunch.

A short while later around Fort Riley KS, is Freedom Park – Atomic Cannon. This is a WW2 railroad mounted cannon that can shoot [but thankfully never did] nuclear ordinance. The walk up was a nice break from the drive and provided a lovely view of the fort.

After our detour, we were back on the road headed out towards Colorado. Much to Danelle’s and my delight, we caught both kids sleeping in the car while we chatted up front. Reminds us of when they were much younger!

The following day, we made it to Denver and had a few hours to kill before booking into our AirBnB. Corvin wanted to go by the Denver Bronco’s stadium and wear some Chiefs gear.

Not too far away was Red Rocks amphitheater that is open to the public when there are no performances. We were able to park and check it out. Sonora got her first taste of the mountains sucking all the air out of your lungs walking into Red Rocks.

Our 4 night stay was in Dillon, CO, 9,000 feet elevation. We saw snow driving to it.

The plan was to relax and do a whole lot of nothing while we decompressed about mom passing. We stopped by the grocery store to get supplies for the visit. This led to a several meals together.

Danelle doesn’t seem to be able to sleep in and wanted to see the sunrise in the mountains. Our first morning, she looked outside to find 2 bears checking the place out. Below is one walking right behind our car.

We drove a short ways away and found a cool hike by the nearby lake. Here the kids got silly.

We exchanged family photos with a nearby family to get all of us at this amazing overlook.

Eventually we made it to a nearby disc golf course. Sonora walked while we played 9 holes.

I was able to slip away for a hike and decided to talk Sonora into joining me for the hike. It took a lot of convincing, but I think that she had a good time!

What makes a hike special? I think it comes down to a lot of things. For this hike, being with Sonora was the biggest part. But also going up some elevation with her was good. Then the real surprise came. She found a golf ball and grabbed it. The hike was bordering a golf course. Then we found a second golf ball. The game was on. Sonora found her third golf ball and picked it up. As she came back to the trail, a golf cart pulled up. I’m pretty sure that she grabbed a live ball the guy would have found. Embarrassed, we just started walking faster trying not to laugh. All told Sonora grabbed around 14 golf balls during our walk.

Near the final stretch of the hike, there was a sign saying beware of bears. I was a bit worried after the sighting the day before. It turns out that a local was just having fun of it and had several carvings along the trail!

This hike would not have been the same if I had just gone by myself and I’m glad I had company!

One of my favorite things to do in Colorado is visit St. Mary’s Glacier. My mom talked about it a bunch. I had been there on family vacations as a child and on our honeymoon nearly 23 years earlier. Bring the kids there was important to me. Parked at the glacier, Corvin was like a greyhound wanting to be let out of the gate and run free. I knew that none of us could keep up with him. He was able to hold back going crazy until we got to the lake at the base. Sonora needed coxing to get her to even walk up. It isn’t easy and we took lots of breaks.

Eventually at the top, Corvin can’t be contained. I send him on his way with a plan to turn around at a specific time so we all get down around the same time.

Also, there isn’t much cell coverage here, so we have to plan old fashioned.

Here we are at the base before splitting up even further. Danelle’s foot hurts so she won’t attempt to up as far as the rest of us.

Sonora and I ended up ascending about 1,000 feet. Much more than I would have expected. It was time to turn around, and we happened to find Corvin. We grabbed a shot of us at the top before going down.

Back at the car, we had one more stop for the day. Mount Evans Mount Blue Sky is the highest auto rode in North America and we were going to drive up it. (Note it was renamed between when we went up and when I’m writing this up) Sonora gets motion sick in cars and elevation also plays a game, so I drive slowly up up up to the base of the highway to the top. Once we paid our admission, it was a 14 ish mile drive up some of the worst paved roads around. The drop offs are instant death and I was driving my whole family. Ohh and goats seemingly eating the road on the cliff.

Sonora reached out and touched the snow as we were driving along.

We saw a bunch of birds hopping on to of the snow and marmots moving about. At the to it was actively snowing on us and I was vastly under dressed, freezing quickly in shorts.

Corvin rocking the socks and sandals look.

With the heat blasting, I was able to finally warm up before driving back down the mountain. This turned out to be our favorite day of the trip. All our worries forgot and we were lost in the wonder of nature twice!

On our last full day, Corvin and I struck out on a hike. We ended up getting about 30 golf balls and so many laughs!

There were many other memorable moments, but we were ready to get back home and settle in for a few days before resuming normal life again. We figured we would drive straight home from Denver in one day and headed out.

Tune in for the next post to find out why we didn’t make it home as originally planned.

Hogan Haake





1 thought on “Family Vacation – 6/3/2023

  1. Thanks, for sharing your memories! You visited a couple of my favorite places in Colorado. I remember moving to CO and sucking all the air I could. Thinking hope I adapt quickly or this going to suck.

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