The Magic House

December 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

When I was little, there was an amazing place I loved to visit. A giant old mansion, full of hidden passages, a three-story spiral slide and crazy science experiments! We knew it simply as “The Magic House.” And it was one of the first and still one of the best hands-on science museums I have ever been to.

This awesome place is still around, only it’s been expanded and grown for the last 25 years, and is now known as The Magic House – The St. Louis Children’s Museum. We managed to fly out and visit the grandparents in St Louis for a few days after Christmas, and now that G is old enough to run around, I thought he might enjoy a trip to the Magic House.

And he did!

G is still pretty young for a lot of the exhibits and activities at the Magic House. But they have added a special small area for toddlers, so we spent an hour exploring the little ball pits, the tiny habitrail-like play set, the little kitchen rooms, and the big mirrors, knobs, buttons and blinking lights in the Baby Zone.

G loved an area where kids play in a long series of water-filled sinks. I was happy to have a change of clothes in his diaper bag. Another spot had a room full of light switches that he could turn on and off. There were exhibits with huge, weird musical instruments that he wanted to explore, and a pioneer-based play area where he spent half an hour finding fake potatoes in the sand and carrying them up to random people.

It was really fun seeing G get out and explore the Magic House, in much the same way I did as a kid. It will be even better when he’s old enough to really enjoy most of the activities! Though, after seeing this face, I’m not sure anything could be better than a ball pit and a giant mirror!

Have you had a chance to share a special place with friends or family this year? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Eagle’s Nest Open Space

December 17, 2011 at 8:19 pm

The days before Christmas are quiet in a college town. The streets empty, and the population disperses. For years, our group of young friends has traveled to distant family for the holidays, but this year, with new family members popping up, many of us stuck closer to our own homes.

This is why we found ourselves at the sunny trailhead for Eagle’s Nest Open Space just a few days before Christmas, with Doug and pregnant Liz, our own baby and dog, and a plan for enjoying mountain views and blue skies.

Home on the Range

Since G was born, Mark and I have started to appreciate the local trails and open spaces surrounding our little Northern Colorado town. We used to drive right past these for high peaks and tall granite climbs, but we’ve recently learned that we were missing out on some great hikes by doing so. The tall peaks of the Rockies are dramatic and stunning, but there is a quiet beauty in the wooded foothills, hidden plains rivers, and local sandstone.

Frozen river

My goofball boys!

Eagle’s Nest Open Space is located about 40 minutes north of our house in Livermore, CO. The 755 acres offer 5 miles of hiking trails, beautiful views of the Laramie foothills, and access to the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre river. The area is named for the large rock formation that stands sentinel over the river valley, and has (supposedly) been home to nesting Golden Eagles for over 100 years.

Hiking in the afternoon

Mark, G and I were all fighting off colds (as we have been all fall and winter) and Doug and Liz were being super adventurous at 26 weeks of pregnancy to even come out and meet us, so we opted to forgo the long hike, and stick to the first 3.4 mile loop.

Even though the ground was covered in 3-4 inches of snow back at our house, these high-plains trails were well melted, and our hike was done almost entirely on solid dirt. The winter southern sun warmed us up nicely for the afternoon, casting long shadows on the hills and posting sage brush and yucca in stark relief on the hillsides.

The doggies play on a frozen Poudre river

G tried out his new REI snow suit, which might have been overkill for such a mild day, but he seemed comfortable enough. He zonked in the backpack about 20 minutes into the hike, and had a nice afternoon nap as we plodded along the hillsides. He slept though our break on the banks of the frozen river, so didn’t get his usual chance to get out and wander around on his own two feet until we were back at the cars. For sitting in a backpack for 2.5 hours, he did really well though, only getting cranky at the very end of our hike.

G took his afternoon nap in the backpack

It was a beautiful day, and a really lovely hike. The trails were nearly deserted, only one horse rider and a handful of other people crossed our path during the afternoon. These wide-open spaces just south of the Wyoming boarder glowed in the low afternoon sun, and I sucked up every moment of the light, the air, and the freedom of those hills.

Views from the trail