First Phone!

Guess who got their first phone yesterday?
Getting a phone in our house is a right of passage.  Once they start middle school we allow them to get a phone.  Hailey and Karlie had to prove their responsibleness by having a basic flip phone for a year and half.  They were both upgraded to the coveted iPhone for Christmas of their 7th grade year.  Karlie was literally the ONLY kid she new in school that did not have a smartphone.  Of course we had planned to have Kaitlin suffer through the same humiliation and prove herself. But as the technology wheel spins ever faster, it was now going to be more expensive to get a flip phone than a Samsung smart phone!  They were willing to give us the phone for free where we would have to pay over $100 for a flip phone that basically is used in just emergencies.  So we decided she could get the phone but is not allowed to use data.  We may become Android users after this intro.  They have so many valuable features for parental controls.  We can control from our phones turning of cellular data, setting automatic bedtimes where the phone shuts down to calls only, and monitoring what apps she uses and for how long.  Apple better catch up!  Needless to say Kaitlin is on cloud 9 and her sisters are slightly resentful.  I told them by the time Hank gets to middle school they will probably be giving iPhones away.

Swim Team

With the end of swim team, I know school is just around the corner.  The kids had a great season swimming with their friends and improving as swimmers.
 It might be Karlie's last year.  I suppose once she is in high school she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to, but I am hoping to convince her to just keep swimming.  They all got better in their strokes, with Kaitlin being the best at breast stroke and Hank and Karlie both did well in back stroke.  Front stroke is the crowd favorite and butterfly is unanimously the least liked stroke.
So long summer.  :(

Via Ferrata High to Rocky Mountain Low

We have been to Telluride many times but never had time to fit in climbing the Via Ferrata.  From what I remembered it was a steep hike requiring being clipped into a harness.  Aimee handled all the reservations and I didn't think about it until Tuesday morning when we were picked up by our guide.
 When we drove to the trail head I could see a small path and was thinking that would be neat and then the guide continued to trace the trail along the front of the rock face.  Wait!  I didn't sign up to go rock climbing!!  I thought it was a hike.
Our guide said we would have to pass the entrance exam which was a small stretch of the climb that would sample all the technical areas we would continue onto.  If we made it through the entrance exam without having a panic attack, we would likely be OK.  As I looked at the anchor line careening off the mountain I wondered if I would pass the entrance exam.

 We all made it, however Bill was having serious reservations about this idea.  I think after Rim 2 Rim, Havasupai Falls and then this thrilling hike, Bill was also reconsidering his friendship with us!
 After the entrance exam I was feeling pretty good and like I could tackle it!  That all evaporated when we got to the section that would require us to scale the side of Ajax's Peak.  Really, these iron ledges were going to hold me?!  I am not afraid of heights but this was a little insane.  Who installed this and tested it?  Why hadn't I done more research?
Every step required complete concentration.  Living on the edge for sure!
At the end of the Via Ferrata was a bench dedicated to Chuck Kroger, the man who single handedly built the Via Ferrata.
Our guide spoke of Chuck as a true legend.  Apparently he was a pioneer climber in the 60's, ultra runner, cyclist, inventor, metal craftsman, construction company owner, and a mountain renaissance man.  One day as he gazed at Apex Peak he decided Telluride needed a Via Ferrata like the one in the Dolomites of Italy.  Via Ferrata means iron road in Italian.  They were constructed during WWI to assist in moving soldiers.
But the craziest part is that Chuck decided to build the Via Ferrata at night, in secret, and on public land.  He and his wife welded the iron handles in their basement.  Chuck would single handedly climb the mountain, drill holes into the rock face and secure the iron handles all in secrecy under the cover of night.  It took him ten years and he completed the last sections while battling pancreatic cancer.  A real wild man!
We happened to be climbing while a member of the Telluride Mountain Club was officially surveying the route and examining the sturdiness of each rung.  He told us the Forrest Service has wanted to shut it down for years and they have been lobbying to keep it free and open just as Chuck designed it;  there for all who have the heart to enjoy it.  When I look at the picture, I can't agree more.
 We got to cross back over the rock face and I felt much more confident the second time.  It was an awesome experience and has stoked my desire for more thrilling adventures!
When we got home it was time to ride and hike.  Max, Bill, Hailey, Hank, Ben and I wanted to get in a ride while Aimee, Grace, Karlie, Kaitlin and Julianna hit the hiking path.
I was in the back coaching Hank down the mountain.  For most of the ride Hailey had been sandwiched between Bill and Ben and then Max and Hank.  This prevented her from really cutting loose.  She is an avid mountain biker at home.  In the non summer months she goes out nightly.  She loves to go as fast as she can.  However, the desert trails are more flat than the sheer downhill of Telluride.  Toward the end of the trail we paused so Max could coach Hank and I could ride freely.  Hailey had a spot where she could pass Max and and Hank and go full throttle.
With just a 100 yards of the trail to go she hit a bump too fast and flew over her handle bars.  Neither Max or I saw the crash but saw her crumpled up in a ball on the ground.  We rushed down to her and she was having trouble breathing and holding her left arm.  I could tell immediately that she had broken something but were more concerned with her head and neck.  As we examined her and ruled out concussion or neck injury she started to go into shock.  Her skin tone turned yellow and her lips blue.  She started to feel like she was fainting.  I began to worry she had a punctured lung.  At that point we called 911.  An angle showed up at that moment.  A young man happen to be walking down what is usually only a mountain bike trail.  He offered to call 911 and directed the responders to us while we could both focus on Hailey.  Bill took Ben and Hank to Aimee who coincidently was on the way back.  The firefighters made it up the trail in their truck.  I don't know how long it actually took but it seemed like forever.  
 That picture was only taken because while Hailey was in shock she insisted she should take a selfie with daddy.  A daisy was growing right where her head landed so I plucked it and put it in her hair. 
 I can not say enough about the people of Telluride.  Every single person went above and beyond to be good to us.  The fireman offered to take the extra bike and delivered it to the house after he got off work.  The medics were so kind and gentle and the ER doc provider us with her cell phone should we have any trouble in the night.  The nurse also told us she would be on duty the next day and to call for anything.  The pharmacist was getting to know Max on a first name basis after he had called in a prescription for Hank's raging ear infection the first day of the trip and then immediately filled Hailey's prescriptions right before closing.  All that talk about small town hospitality is sure true in Telluride.
We spent Wednesday letting Hailey rest before the big drive home.  I stayed home to play nurse while the crew took the day to ride and hike.  The ladies hiked to Bear Creek Falls while the boys rode.
We had one last celebratory toast.  Grateful that her injury was not worse.  Even though she would need surgery it could have been so much worse.
Telluride is a special place for us.  It was particularly magical staying in a castle on the hill, experiencing the Via Ferrata, and despite the unfortunate injury, seeing the kindness of the folks of Telluride.
 Hailey is already talking about going back and conjuring the trail!  Until next time Telluride...

Telluride Trio: Bike, Hike, Fish

We are in love with Telluride.  As an active family the heat in the summer in Arizona can be oppressive.  It is hard to be stuck inside all summer.  Escaping to Telluride allows us a few days to play outside as much as we can.

 The free Gondola makes mountain bike riding and hiking so easy.  All you have to do is go down!  The first day we took a group circus ride down to the town of Telluride from Mountain Village.  Loading and unloading 11 bikes on and off the Gondola 4 times each way is a bit of an ordeal.  However, it is getting easier and easier as the kids get bigger.
Grace did not have a bike so we brought an extra.  It wasn't until we were on the mountain bike trail that I learned Grace had only learned to ride a bike two years ago and had never been on a mountain bike.  She also had not been on a bike in over a year.  There was a learning curve for sure.  I hung back and coached her while the rest of the gang made their way along the river.  I told her not to worry, I have been the back of the caboose forever and I am always coaching one of the kids.  She was so grateful and relieved.  She picked it up pretty well by the time we made it back to the town.  At that point Bill and Ben went to ride the more serious downs while Hailey and Grace hung out in the town.  The rest of us continued toward Bridal Veil Falls.  Little 6 year old Julianna ended up biking over 10 miles!  We stopped by the river to cool off and Max dunked the kids.  Soaking in the hot tub was a perfect ending.
Max loves Telluride because he can literally ride downhill until his legs scream and his hands can't break anymore.  The last day he biked for most of the day and came back a muddy mess but you couldn't wipe the grin off his face.
The next day we headed up to Alta lakes to fish.  Grace had never been fishing before either and was very excited.  By the end of the afternoon she was helping me bait hooks!
 This is by far one of my favorite activities in Telluride.  The kids are so excited to real in the big guys and you could not imagine a more picturesque place to sit on the banks.  With so many poles in the water someone is always casting or reeling one in.
 I felt bad for Max, he was the only man on deck as Bill had to work.  Usually Pops and he are the dynamic fishing duo and are continually helping string lines, net fish, pull out hooks, and fix broken bobbers or caught lines.  
 With this team everyone was wanting Max's help.  I tried to help by netting and stringing fish, and bating hooks.  But removing the hooks was still a daddy job.  :)
We were wildly successful!  Everyone caught a huge fish.
Max was going to have his work cut out for him cleaning all the fish.

 It was a gorgeous and fun day by the lake.

One big dysFUNctional family that reeked like fish.
 When we got back to the castle, Max and I took a little nap in the drizzling rain.
 Max seems to always have the perfect beverage for the occasion.
The chess board got a lot of use between Max and Karlie and Hank and Ben.
 Ben is in the chess club and was coaching Hank on how to play.
 For those of us a little less cerebral, we played Jenga.  It was so peaceful playing games and listen to the rain fall.
 Hank and Ben played outside constantly.  They were hauling sticks and wood from the side of the house to make a fort.  They thought they were Mindcrafting outside.
 The golf balls were treasure, especially the colored ones.  It was awesome to just let him run around and play.  That is one of the things I miss most about Colorado summers, is the kids running free in the backyard and over to friends' houses.  In Arizona it can be life treating to play out in the heat and there are dangerous snakes, pokey cactus, and high walls making it impossible to go play.  The pool is your only respite but that requires an adult to supervise too.
 We attempted to go out to a nice dinner in the town one night but after waiting 2 hours we ditched Main St. Telluride and went to Mountain Village for some pizza.
Max found another perfect Ale to try.  :)
 One night we decided to do S'mores.  Bill, the former Boy Scout, had us laughing till we cried as he attempted to make the fire.  After several attempts with the kindling and newspaper and nothing but smoke, Max walked over and turned on the gas switch and had a roaring fire.   Who knew the real fireplace also had a gas lighter sticking out of the wood holder.
 We ate and celebrated enough for an entire summer!
Hailey and Grace wanted to try the chair.  You start out with a chair under each of your backs and then someone pulls the chairs out from under each person until we were all holding each other up without any chairs under us!  Lean on me...  It was fun from morning till night until Tuesday.  Tuesday morning we would set out to do Telluride's Via Ferrata.

Taking Off For Telluride

Our annual Telluride trip escalated this year.  Our good family friends invited us to go with them this year.  They usually go in the winter to ski and have never gone in the summer.  We needed to rent a U-haul trailer to drag all 11 bikes up there!
A new addition was also Hailey getting to bring a friend.  We decided at 16 you can bring a buddy.  Grace was such fun and a blessing to have on the trip.
We normally stay in much more modest accommodations but Aimee's parents are part of a travel club that gives them access to incredible properties around the world.  By combining our stay we were able to stay in the castle on the hill!  This house was incredible!
 Max finally got to relax after a long 8 hour drive.  Little Juliana calls Max her second dad.  :)
 The house sits on the third hole of the Telluride golf course.  It would be a daily battle keeping the kids off of it and watching for errant balls.  The kids would go out at night and search for golf balls like an Easter egg hunt.
All of us whimpy Arizonans were dressed like it was the middle of winter.  The cool night air was so wonderful!  It was a treat to feel cold.
The views were not bad either.