Colorado Trip July 2015: Day 1

A few weeks back, I managed to escape my domestic lifestyle of Super Dad.   As you might recall, I’ve banked up about a month worth’s of vacation from being a responsible person.  Over the years, my wife has done a lot of “Girl’s Weekend/Ditch the Family Weekends” with her various friends while I’ve stayed home with the kids.  On contrast, my trips away from her usually involve some kind of Boy Scout outing (like summer camp or a weekend camping trip in the Pacific Northwest rain).   Neither one are relaxing vacations. I would say they are like supervising prison highway cleanup crews on a long 4th of July weekend: Your buddies are out having fun and you have to watch a bunch of inmates.

So every once in a while, I get a Guy’s Trip to refresh and use up that “banked” time.  Don’t get too excited; this happens about once every seven years.  (It is quite rare and you should probably note this in your worthless event calendar).  This time, I invited myself to Colorado on my friend’s business trip (so my lodging was free). Luckily, I stayed with my friend (who unluckily was there for business).  While he and his fellow co-workers were stuck in “important” meetings and site visits (they look at buildings and the security of the buildings), I was visiting the tourist sites around Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder.  Don’t worry; I thanked him by charging a lot of nice meals to his room, a bathrobe for his wife (she probably needed a nice gift from him anyway), and a few drinks for the 23 new friends I made at the hotel bar.  All legitimate business expenses if you ask me.

This was my first trip to the Denver area and mid-July was a great time to visit.  Nice, comfortable weather (shorts and t-shirt time)…sunshine and clear blue skies in the morning, turning to thundershowers in the late afternoon and evening.

Day 1: Explored Denver downtown along the Commons Park, 16th Street Mall (basically an outdoor mall with a bunch of chain stores…gee, I could have just stayed home and not seen this crap), the Federal U. S. Mint/U.S. Reserve building (oh, another place where the building is a full of more money I’ll never have), and the Colorado State Capitol and the civic grounds around it (actually it is quite nice pack and landscaped area).  You see, I don’t mind walking, exploring, and people watching.  It’s quite good fun: you walk, check things out, and stay healthy.

16th Street Mall...skip it...
16th Street Mall…skip it…

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After exploring this tiny slice of Denver, I drove out to the Red Rock Amphitheatre (located in Red Rock Park near Golden, CO).  If you have ever been to the Cars ride at Disneyland’s California Adventure Park, this is most likely where the Disney folks got their inspiration from.  It was a beautiful setting.  Great rock formations, parking isn’t bad, and the terrain is fun to hike.  Bad part was the light drizzle of rain that turned into a downpour.  But what is a little rain while you on vacation?  Nothing but a free shower, right?

Driving: While on vacation, I often forget that you aren’t magically able to get from Point A to Point B in a matter of minutes (this isn’t a Harry Potter novel).  What I think is a five minute drive is actually a 45 minute drive.  After my hike, I still had to drive out to Boulder from Red Rocks Park (which turned out to be about 45 minutes away).   Time isn’t on my mind either.  I occasionally might check my watch but I don’t keep track of time.  As long as I’m not falling asleep at the wheel, I’m good to go.

Traffic around the Denver area wasn’t bad at all. Considering how the traffic is in Seattle, everywhere else (besides Honolulu, LA, and New York) is a piece of cake to drive in.

Accommodations: I stayed at the Hotel Boulderado. Well, I rather crashed with my friend in his room paid for by his employer. However, in reality I’m a client at his company so I really paid for my own room. Hmm, in hindsight, I should have upgraded to the deluxe suite. Nice hotel in the heart of downtown Boulder and close to the Pearl Street Mall (another closed off street featuring stores and street artists).

Next post….Day 2!

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Day 5: Dad & Daughter Roller Coaster Adventure Trip

Day 5 Knott’s Berry Farm: Danger and Excitement in the streets of Buena Park!
If you have the time, hit the “like” button and help keep my fragile ego intact…thanks.
Of all my trips to Southern California, I have never been to Knott’s Berry Farm until this past February trip with my daughter on our Dad and Daughter Roller Coaster Adventure Trip. I was really looking forward to visiting Knott’s because it was another unknown roller coaster destination for us. We have been to Disneyland, Sea World, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, but Knott’s was a new park with new rides for us. Nothing like trying something new, right?

Blue Skies all around.
Blue Skies all around.

I was warned that Buena Park is a bit of a ghetto. It turned out to be fine. No knife fights, no gun battles as I parked my rental car. I was a little bit disappointed since a few friends had hyped up the danger factor.

Knott's Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm

As I have written before (for those of you that actually pretend to read my blog), my daughter (age 11) is the only one in my family that enjoys the roller coaster and thrill rides so many amusement parks offer. She does rides that would have freaked me out at her age if I were here. I guess I’m glad I’m not 11 again. She also sings and acts in the school play, so in reality she is a lot braver than me at age 11.
There are certain pros and cons with doing this trip in February during my daughter’s Mid-Winter Break (week long break). Pro: We get out of the rain, doom and gloom, and gray skies of Seattle for the sunshine of southern California. Con: The amusement parks are on limited hours and limited operating days. For example, Knott’s Berry Farm was open all week but hours were 10 am to 6 pm. Pro: Knott’s had a special half price admission for Breast Cancer. Another Pro: Short lines for the rides; not crowded at all.

Waiting for Ghostrider!
Waiting for Ghostrider!

The one long wait we encountered was for Knott’s Ghostrider wooden roller coaster. I’m not the biggest fan of wooden coasters and if I had a choice between wooden and metal, I’d go with metal hands down. However, we had to do Ghostrider since we were at Knott’s Berry Farm and it did not disappoint. That sucker is one fast roller coaster and from their website, you hit 3.14 G-force on that baby. We did have to wait about 35-45 minutes and I lost my hat (from Anderson Island) but it was fun.
In hindsight, we did Ghostrider right when the park opened and that is probably why the line was so long. We should have waited and gone to something else, let the line die down, and then double back to it. The rest of the time, all the wait times were 3-7 minutes. We often would go on a ride, have a great time, and then do the ride over again since we were right there. It was truly wonderful not to have to stand in line for hours to ride a two minute thrill ride. This is how I wish it was like every time I went to an amusement park.
We also managed to have our traditional ice cream lunch. This whole vacation was “chocolate mint ice cream” for lunch. Oops. Bad Parenting but who cares? It’s a vacation!
Another upside to vacation: No one really annoyed me at all during my vacation trip. Isn’t that amazing? Knott’s Berry Farm turned out to be a great value for the money spent: short lines and great rides.  I do recommend you visit it.  I suspect in the summer it will be a mad house.
Thanks again for wasting your time reading my worthless advice blog. As always your comments are needed so my fragile ego can stay intact and I can live in a state of bliss.

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Just chillin with Snoopy!
Just chillin with Snoopy!


Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream for lunch...because I'm a great parent.
Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream for lunch…because I’m a great parent.

Daughter Roller Coaster Trip Day 4: City of Ventura, Calabasas, and Santa Monica Pier

Roller Coaster Trip Day 4

Day 4 of our Roller Coaster Adventure Trip was spent sleeping in (until 8 am) and relaxing. Even in vacation mode, I don’t sleep in.  Sleeping in until 8 am is a big deal for me.  Please keep in mind,  we hit two amusement parks in two days and needed a bit of a break from our adventures in California. Instead of a roller coaster amusement park on Tuesday, we went to the beach in the City of Ventura, had ice cream for lunch, and then met up with my old college friend Julie and her twin three year old sons in Calabasas, California.

Even in California, people love the Seattle Seahawks.
Even in California, people love the Seattle Seahawks.


Dig a hole to bury all your secrets in!

This is the first time we have had a chance to meet her twin sons. She is married to my other friend Chris who happened to be out of town working. I’m pretty sure he planned to be out of town on purpose.  Chris likes to mess with my head that way.

I do miss that age of youth and discovery with three year old kids. Julie thought that was amusing because sometimes her boys drive her nuts. But honestly, what kids don’t drive their parents a little bit nuts once in a while.  My kids drive me nuts all the time.  The dog and cat drive me nuts.  Heck, I think you have figure out by now that everyone and everything drives me nuts.  But I love people, really, I do love them.

Time flies by and it was fun to have a glimpse of the past (when my kids were younger) and I enjoy the three year old twins.  We had a great time with Duplos.  I discover that I am by far still a lot better at building than some twin crazy three old boys.  Ah ha!  Old age wins again!

Now, you know what doesn’t drive me nuts?  This whole Dad and Daughter Roller Coaster Trip!  One of my clients mentioned he did a Dad and Daughter trip and had an awesome time with his daughter to Disneyland.  It inspired me to do this trip.  I was delighted that I could take my daughter (the only one that really enjoys roller coasters and scary rides) on this trip.  I finally had someone in my family that wanted to do the rides with me!   I’m selfishly happy she is now 11 years old and likes to ride the scary rides.  Roller coasters all the way, everyday!

A safe harbor?
A safe harbor?

On a brief side note: She has always loved those scary amusement rides since she was a little toddler. For the past two summers, as a family we have gone to Silverwood Amusement Park in Idaho, and she is my thrill ride partner. Silverwood is very affordable and well worth the visit to Idaho if you have the time, that’s my worthless advice for northwest amusement parks.

Ok, back to California and our roller coaster adventure. Julie and I and figured out earlier that we wanted to go to Santa Monica Pier and have dinner down there. We rode the Ferris wheel with the kids, spent some time in the arcade, and had a great pizza dinner. We had a great time (well, at least I had an awesome time!). I forgot how much I miss my friends that have moved out of Washington State. This dinner and catch up session was well worth the flight to California. Plus anytime I can tell other parents how to be a better parent (because I’m an awesome parent role model and everyone wants to learn from the master of worthless parenting advice…..that’s me by the way).


Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier


The is a bit of a worse driver than the other one.
The twins…one is a bit of a worse driver than the other one.
View from the Ferris Wheel.
View from the Ferris Wheel.
Paradise Park at Santa Monica Pier
Paradise Park at Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica
Santa Monica

I liked Paradise Park on Santa Monica Pier. Besides it being a bit windy and cold that evening, the Santa Monica Pier was fun to visit. It has a small amusement ride area, a boardwalk with shops, an arcade, and some food booths. It only has a few homeless people to bother you as you walk around; not too different from over beach towns we have been too. Nothing like the warmth of Southern California to keep you in a reality check of everyday life, am I not speaking the truth?

Overall, Day 4 was a great day to relax and catch our breath. Day 5: Knott’s Berry Farm!

Thanks for reading and pretending to care.

Artwork by the twins….

A drawing by Erb boys.  Thank goodness they got the hair on the side of my head correct!
A drawing by Erb boys. Thank goodness they got the hair on the side of my head correct!