Monday, September 10, 2012

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation(s)

This summer saw us well traveled! And, at times car sick, jet lagged, and downright exhausted. Here is the cliff notes version of our trips:

Lake Cumberland

The Roche/Giannone clan visited Lake Cumberland, Kentucky for a long weekend. The water was beautiful - so inviting that we spent the majority of the vacation marinating ourselves in lake water. The kids (okay, everyone) enjoyed a three-story waterslide, tubes, and jumping off the second story of the boat into the lake below. Our fun was childlike, beautiful in its simplicity and wholesomeness, and just plain amazing for the soul. We hiked the shores looking for treasure (driftwood, rocks, and quartz), and enjoyed lots of low-key family time. What's not to adore about a vacation spent entirely barefoot and almost entirely in our bathing suits?

Finn dubbed our destination "Nantucky", prompting lots of jokes about the difference between Nantucket and Kentucky. Rich people take their private planes to Nantucket; we take our SUV to Kentucky. Rich people have private chefs; we have coolers in the back. Rich Rich people go yachting; we rent houseboats.

Speaking of the was the MEGACAT! Yes, we had the biggest boat on the lake, much to Jeff's delight. The three stories of fun included a hot tub, waterslide, bar, multiple levels of decks, eight staterooms, seven bathrooms, and a great living area. Redneck yachting at its finest, and we enjoyed every minute!

Breckenridge, Colorado

Our second adventure of the summer was out to Breck for a wedding. (Congrats to Evan and Kate Mahan!) Pat and Marilee rented a great house for 22 of us (yes, that's 22!) with astounding mountain views. This was my first time seeing "real" mountains, and I was in love with the beauty of nature. The boys and their cousins quickly found a mountain stream in the quaint downtown that they explored fully (a.k.a - wet kids!). We spent some time at an amusement park on the slopes - luge-style rides, a sled coaster on rails, and a bungee trampoline experience that allowed even me to do flips. And, we enjoyed the shops and restaurants in the cute downtown; Jeff and I love a good main street!

After the lovely wedding, we made a daytrip down to Fairplay, CO to do a wildflower hike. While we never found the anticipated hike, we did find burro days - a local celebration that involves a burro race where you run 29 miles tied to a donkey. We also found some abandonned mines and some time to hike Mount Sherman. It was a very cool slice of earth to stumble upon. The next day we drove up Mount Evans, the highest paved road in North America. (Does it count as summiting a mountain if you do it in a Suburban?)

Mount Whitney and Vegas

Labor day weekend we traveled out to Vegas and onto Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. I've never seen Vegas, and 24 hours there was enough for me. We enjoyed the pool and cabana at Mandalay Bay during the day and rented a limo to see the lights on the strip at night. The boys liked the limo even better than the lights, I think. It was perfect! Then, I was done.

The next day we caravaned (us in a Suburban, Trent in a Porshe) through Death Valley to Mount Whitney Portal, where we camped two nights. We had a fantastic time seeing Jeff's San Diego cousins and meeting their mother's family. In all, there were 44 of us extended family members enjoying the clean Sierra air and the stream that trickled right through our group campsite. This was the first time Jeff and I camped with the boys. They had a blast! Jeff survived.

We also tested our new hiking boots and my new (thank you, Jeff!) Cambelback daypack on the trails of Mount Whitney, hiking nearly 6 miles to Lone Pine Lake. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the lake was breathtaking and well worth the effort. I think we've caught the hiking bug, for sure. We're already looking forward to a possible summit attempt next year, though a 22 mile dayhike to the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. is daunting, to say the least.

We spent our last night in California renweing our gratitude for running water after three days in the woods. Dearest showers, how we will never take thee for granted again!

Our summer 2012 was packed with adventure! Many, many thanks to our wonderful family who made outstanding travel companions...mostly.

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