Category Archives: Travel

Four Tickets to Ride – Up Pikes Peak

One site in Colorado we were set on seeing in January was Pikes Peak. I had imagined we would simply drive around and look at it because of all the snow, but then we learned about the little cog railway that takes passengers up the mountain. Sold! Anything that remotely resembles a train is an instant win in our family. Sam is absolutely in love. So after we had all acclimated to the elevation, we booked our tickets and hit the mountain!

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As we waited to board the little, red train car, Sam excitedly signed train over and over. Day. Made.

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There are just two, little, connected cars that make their way up and down the mountain. Big windows, vintage pictures hanging inside, and a fantastic tour guide all added to the fun of the trip. An added bonus for me? The guy on the speaker sounded exactly like Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. Who knows Ron Swanson? Made me laugh the entire trip!

One very excited little boy!

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His big sister was pretty thrilled, too.

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Winter trips up the mountain don’t go the complete 14,000 feet because of the snow. The 12,000 feet we did travel, however, offered incredible views. Like here at Inspiration Point.

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I’d love to see this again in the summer.

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I get to see these boys every day! Lucky me!

On the way back down, we made a half-hour stop to get out for photos and such. You know what wasn’t available at that stop? Food. And guess what Mom forgot to pack? Food. And you know what time it was? Past lunch. Amateur move, Mom. I did, however, have this little packet of salmon in the bottom of my bag, so we ripped that pouch wide open and ate it with our fingers. (PS My girl is so quick to pose these days. My little actress. All the heart eyes for this one, I tell you.)

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Sam was all about the salmon.

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Our dear Nikki joined us on the trip up the mountain. We met Nikki at training and instantly connected. She is an amazing young woman who also has an enormous heart for children with special needs in Kenya. She’s already been working for a while in Nairobi. We can’t wait to hug her again when we all meet up in Kenya in just a few months!

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So glad we got to take on Pikes Peak! God did a pretty incredible job creating these majestic mountains.

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Have you been to Colorado? What’s your favorite place? We could have explored her sites for weeks and weeks!

 

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A Weekend in Denver

I’m backtracking a bit to make up for not getting all the photos up following our month in Colorado! There was just so much each week, I didn’t have a lot of time to get it all posted, and returning to Minnesota hasn’t been much better. But we’re settling in to our routine again and finding a happy rhythm. So off we go…let’s catch up!

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Our last full weekend in Colorado was spent with Pete’s sister, Kathryn, in Denver. We first met up at the aquarium where we simply could not resist sitting down for lunch beside walls of fish. I’m pretty sure Sam has signed for fish at every restaurant we’ve visited since being at the aquarium! (He’s signing it here.)

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Our table was right next to this amazing tank, but we gave in anyway and pulled his chair right up to the glass. This was certainly his happiest meal out EVER.

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Following lunch, we made a slow walk through the aquarium. Sam could have watched this tank for days…

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…even with this creepy guy swimming back and forth with his mouth wide open. I mean, look at those chompers! And the eyeballs! What do you suppose he was thinking??

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The most memorable part of the aquarium was that we got to see REAL mermaids! REAL, you guys!! Check out this video. I had two very happy kiddos.

Denver Downtown Aquarium from The Mango Memoirs on Vimeo.

Of course our climber wanted to scale the palm trees on the way out of the aquarium.

IMG_1355 After spending the entire middle of the day at the aquarium, we headed back to Auntie Kathryn’s condo, which is in a pretty cool part of the city. While the boys took naps on the sofa, the girls walked to Trader Joe’s and a local pizza place to bring dinner back. That’s one thing I love about bigger cities. You can walk all over! And so many cities have a Trader Joe’s. Someday, Duluth. Someday.

The day after being at the aquarium, I got to meet up with a beautiful group of my mama friends! I had only previously met these moms on Instagram, but we certainly didn’t feel like strangers. I’ve been connected to these moms for more than a couple years. Lacey and I first found each other shortly after Sam was born. Her little guy, Ari, isn’t much older than Sam. I am consistently amazed at how we can feel like family with those we’ve never met face-to-face, but with whom we have unique bonds. Like these mamas. We are all raising a child with Down syndrome. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences in Colorado!

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How on earth did any of us catch a photo of the four kids together? We tried to convince them all to hold hands, which we though might keep them in one place for the photo. I don’t know who thought of that trick, but…genius. Sam wouldn’t hold hands, though. He just wanted to point and show everyone else where to look for the picture.

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But look! We got one! All looking in different directions, but we’ll take it. What would I do without such incredible mama friends through Instagram to share this journey? I so treasure the evening I spent with Lacey, Crystal, and Bethany.

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Such a fun weekend, but this isn’t all! We also managed to make a trip up Pike’s Peak! Check for that post coming up next. ūüôā

 

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First Day of 2017…On the Road

Happy 2017 from Colorado! Last night we rang in the New Year in a hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, and today we drove, drove, drove to the edge of Colorado. It’s been quite the week of car travel. This is our fourth hotel! First it was Christmas in Pequot with my family, then a night in Rochester for travel shots at Mayo, then last night in Iowa and tonight in Colorado. So glad we’ll reach our final destination for the month tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be at Mission Training International near Colorado Springs for four full weeks. We’ve been told really great things about the training, so we’re looking forward to getting there and meeting everyone in our session. Just two and a half more hours of driving, which seems like cake at this point.

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The kids are rock star travelers, which I have been endlessly thankful for since the day they were born. I would likely be at my wits end if they didn’t travel well. I mean, we’re a traveling family, so thanks, God, for putting that in them! We’ve definitely learned a few things about car travel since having kids. Like a DVD player is the best invention ever for trips, and non-spill snack containers and cups are a must. I’ve also realized that it doesn’t take a whole bunch of different things to keep them busy. Instead, a few simple things can keep their attention for long enough. Then we rotate through each item. The car stays cleaner, the kids aren’t overwhelmed with options, and they can work on focusing their attention. This trip I bought them each a pencil box and put their name on the front for a place to keep small things together, like markers, pieces of clay, and stickers. Sam loves buttons, so I gave him a cheap calculator he uses like a phone. He is seriously joyously happy each time we hand it to him. He also has a small tractor and a motorcycle he got for Christmas. He’s just starting to enjoy coloring, so the Color Wonder markers and color pages Luke & Hannah gave him for Christmas are perfect. (The markers don’t color on anything but the paper!) Ella enjoys projects and workbooks, so I ordered this fantastic lap desk for her a week ago and it has been a dream in the car. She spent today working through a paper doll book from Usborne and creating felt creatures in this Melissa and Doug set. Of course, snacks are also pretty helpful. Our snack of choice on this trip has been popcorn. We have a few little baggies of gummy worms for the kids, too. Something we can easily pull out and hand to them.

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Here’s a trick we’ve picked up that some might say ruins a movie, but we do it anyway: We turn the sound off on lots of movies the kids watch. They don’t seem to mind! This is especially true if they’re working on or playing with something at the same time. This way, Pete and I can listen to audio books up front. I do the same thing when it’s just me on longer trips with the kids. Last night and today we listened to The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper. So good! We totally relate to their love of dreaming together and going after big things that seem a little impossible. And every time Joanna said she wouldn’t have tried some of what got her started in design and sales without her husband, I could absolutely relate. Pete is the one who hears my secret, little dreams and encourages me like none other. The little bake shop I had for a couple years? I never would have done that without him, and I loved it! They also talk about marriage, another topic Pete and I are really into. Plus, Chip & Joanna read the book. It was such a great way for us to spend five or six hours of driving time.

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Tomorrow we’ll get to the MTI lodge and settle into our room for the month. Yes, we all get to be in one room for the whole month. We’re praying this goes well. I’m so glad Sam still wants to sleep in a portable crib when we travel. It seems to bring him comfort. Otherwise, I have no doubt he’d be all over that room in the night.

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Oh, it’s a new year. With everything going on right now, I feel like that has slipped right by me. I need to spend some time reflecting on the last year and all that happened. You guys, I had a word of the year and I actually thought about it all year long! Maybe tomorrow I’ll start praying about a word for this year. And if I get a chance, I’ll share the word and verse from last year. But for now, we’re all going to cuddle into the king bed in this hotel room and finish watching The Polar Express.

Happy 2017!

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San Diego

Last month my handsome¬†husband was invited to teach medicine in San Diego to a group of 300 doctors from all around the world. He’s an incredible doc, but he’s also an incredible teacher. He really is! Pete has been teaching a course called CALS (Comprehensive Advance Life Support) to medical professionals all over Minnesota for a few years. Not only was he asked to teach at this conference in San Diego, but a few months before that he was also selected¬†as the capstone¬†speaker at the annual CALS conference. Am I proud of him? Gushingly so. Will you ever hear about any of this from him? Not a word. So, good thing I can tell you¬†about it here, right?! He’s my favorite.

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Following Pete’s¬†week of teaching in San Diego, we took the opportunity to spend a weekend away together. At the time, he was still working long stretches at a few hospitals in New Mexico, and we weren’t getting much time together, so we jumped at the chance to hit the beach without the kids. I flew out the afternoon the conference ended and we drove up the coast to a little surfing town where I had found a small¬†studio vacation rental away from the noise of the city. I really knew I was on vacation when I woke our first morning to the sounds of Pete making me coffee. A man who doesn’t drink coffee making an early-morning cup for the wifey? Big points in my book. (Side note: It wasn’t actually early morning. It was 10am.¬†Vacationing without kids!)

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We spent a lot of time exploring local towns and checking out some very cool beaches. Of course we had to eat plenty of Mexican food being that close to the border. So, so good!

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La Jolla, where we found lots of (really stinky but cute) sea lions!

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A sunset hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve

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To the beach!

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All day at Pacific Beach in the glorious sunshine.

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There’s just something very cool about a real¬†surfing scene.

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While at the beach, I got to start this amazing book, The Capture, written by the very talented Tom Isbell. Tom was one of my acting teachers in college. I have been inspired by his acting, directing, and playwriting for years. Now I add fiction novel writing to the list. This is the second book in his young adult series The Prey, released in January. If you like YA dystopian books like The Hunger Games or Maze Runner, this is a must read. Or listen! The audio version is very well done. I can’t wait for book three! (Disclaimer: I was not given anything at all for writing all this goodness. I just honestly really, really like the book.)

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Sunset at the beach. It was a very cool, unexpected experience. Just about everyone along the beach and the boardwalk stopped for a good ten or fifteen minutes to watch the sun until it dipped beyond the horizon. A rare time when it seemed we all wanted to soak in the beauty of it. No one was too busy to sit. And as soon as the sun was gone, all movement picked up again. Just a still moment in time together.

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We had three glorious days together at the beach. We ate good food and read good books, stood with our toes in the chilly ocean and watched the sun set each night. It felt like we got to stop time for those three days and remember who we are, me with my Pete. Some days and weeks and, yes, the last few months, have been hard, but when we get to take just a little time to escape and reconnect, everything feels manageable again. We can pick up and head back into life. And the coolest part? It always feels like God ends up speaking big things to our hearts during those times together. So not only do we get to move back into life, but we get to move back in with new dreams and motivation. I could not be more thankful for time away together.


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