Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hermit Park: Bobcat Campground

Hooray for our 2nd camping trip of the season!

We made it both nights and all three days which is a first for our family. Bobcat campground in Hermit Park Open Space is absolutely amazing and I can't imagine camping anywhere else now. 

But before we get into that,  

Lets chit chat about these Hobo Meatloaf Bombs I made for the grill:

Hobo Meatloaf Bombs for camping #campingrecipe

They're super duper simple to make:

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey (or hamburger, whatever is your preference)
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 package meatloaf seasoning by McCormicks
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 small onion
1/4 chopped bell pepper

Combine it all together, roll into balls, slap some onion around the outside of each one, wrap in tinfoil and grill. The best ever.

Then for the cheesy bacon sourdough loaf:
cheesy bacon sourdough loaf for camping #campingrecipe

Buy a loaf, slice it up, stuff with chopped bacon and cheddar jack blended cheese, wrap in foil, grill until cheese melts and then eat the whole thing in under 3 minutes because you can't stop stuffing your face.

cheesy bacon sourdough loaf for camping #campingrecipe

These little Coleman one burner stoves are amazing and inexpensive. We used ours to make my famous camp veggies and again for coffee in the morning.

Coleman one burner stove for camping

Because my sister's family was on a train ride across the country for a visit in San Francisco, she spent the weekend with us in the mountains and made it one of my very favorite camping trips of all time.
While Jason stayed with Kalynn back at camp, we hiked up Kruger Rock Trail and had an incredible view of Estes Park. You could see the entire valley from where we stood.

Kruger Rock Trail in Estes Park's Hermit Park Campground

Meanwhile back at camp, Kalynn decided to use her paints to pretty-up this bush which is now a blueish hue...

bring paints along to camp with toddlers. They can paint almost anything and the rain washes it away.

And Guacamole hog tied herself for the millionth time.

self hog tied bulldog

I hadn't played Apples to Apples in years so when I saw the to-go version was on clearance at Target I picked it up. So much fun. Just add Smirnoff!

Apples to Apples #campinggames

I swear Moles didn't move for 3 days.

camping bulldog

So the morning after our Apples to Apples game, we needed coffee. We needed a lot of coffee. We had no instant crystals and the coffee machine wasn't working so I was forced to put normal coffee grounds in a coffee filter, use a zip tie to keep it closed and I seeped it like it was tea. It actually worked really well and in a bind, it does the job.

use a string or ziptie to tie together coffee grounds inside a coffee filter and seep in boiling water like tea for fresh coffee while camping #campingtips

I bring whatever I can to keep our 3 year old happy and occupied while we camp. We have a long list of camping things to pick up at our local dollar store that are made for one time use. One of those things is glue and a package of google eyes. Kalynn LOVES to glue eyes on anything she can get her tiny little fingers on. Give her a pile of small rocks and she stays busy for hours. Honestly, kids love glue for whatever reason.

glue and google eyes are great for toddlers to make pet rocks while camping

We made a rock concert with all her little creatures.

glue and google eyes are great for toddlers to make pet rocks while camping or for the garden #rockconcert #campingtips #gardentips

When it's time to clean up, this little portable sink comes in really handy for dishes. We found ours for $9.99 at a local camping store.

Coleman travel sink for camping

One of the things that is so great about Hermit Park is that they have gatherings for all campers to join. We were able to meet up and listen to a world renowned story teller tell Native American tales around the campfire. It's a great place to meet your neighbors and socialize if you're into that sort of thing.
stories around the campfire

So with Kalynn's ballet class, gymnastics class, preschool, Jason's work schedule, my work schedule, and my upcoming trip to Paris, it's proving very difficult to find time to do another camping trip. Although we originally wanted to camp 3 times this season, it unfortunately looks as though we'll be cutting our camping vacations short this year. I'm optimistic that they'll just get better with time because this last couple were so much fun, but until then we'll just have to pack away all our new stuff for summer I suppose.

Its been a great season!

Camping With Toddlers

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crash! Bash! Bang! Oh My! It's The 4th Of July!

First of all,
this happened:

Little Girls and Bulldogs are the cutest!

I mean, come ON!!

And then after that, this tiny little blog of mine somehow landed itself in Good Housekeeping!

I mean, COME ON!!!

The Brighter Writer on!

And then on top of that, we've been pinned and liked on Pinterest by Home Shopping Network and Coast Magazine!
The Brighter Writer repinned by Home Shopping Network!

The Brighter Writer liked by Coast Magazine!!

Things are really starting to look up around here...


I'm a few weeks behind on my blogging. This week my hope is to catch up one event at a time. Today I'll start with our 4th of July celebration. My mom was visiting from Long Beach and we headed down to City Park for a day full of festivities. We didn't make it in time for the parade but when Kalynn realized how to construct graham cracker and goldfish sandwiches she forgot about everything else in the world anyway.

graham cracker and goldfish sandwhiches

Fort Collins has just over 875 acres of developed park land, the biggest being City Park. There's more than enough room for everyone in the town, a stage, multiple bands, a crazy fun water park, a handful of playgrounds, lake with paddle boats, and of course the city's firework display.

Statue of Liberty at City Park in Fort Collins, Colorado

It's a really fun place to be on the 4th of July.

Remember when riding on shoulders was the best part of any occasion?

riding on daddy's shoulders <3

riding on daddy's shoulders <3

Kalynn was able to hold some sparklers on her own this year under extreme supervision. We used a plastic cup to shield sparks from her sensitive little arms.

Use a plastic cup to shield sparks from sensitive little arms on 4th of July

Fireworks started an hour late this year but we made fast friends with the people on the blanket next to ours and that made time go a bit faster. (But so did the whiskey we snuck in)

4th of July

Next year we're hoping to make it up to Estes Park and watch fireworks from the Stanley Hotel!

4th of July

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day and thank you for all the encouragement on The Brighter Writer!



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler

I've been experimenting with our new dutch oven pretty much nonstop since getting it. I had a friend at work give me this great recipe for dutch oven peach cobbler and tried it out last night to see what was up. Turns out, it was total perfection. Absolutely delicious and super easy.

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping

* 2 cans (21oz each) peach pie filling
* 1 stick butter
*1 box yellow cake mix
* Ground cinnamon

First, empty the 2 cans of pie filling and evenly spread on the bottom of your dutch oven.

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping
Next, empty the entire box of dry cake mix on top and spread evenly.

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping

Finally, slice butter in small pieces and distribute evenly over top of dry cake mix then top with cinnamon.

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping

With 15(ish) coals on bottom and 10(ish) coals on top, cook for 45-60 minutes. Check every few minutes after 40, you don't want it to burn.

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping

5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping
5 ingredient dutch oven peach cobbler for camping

If you have a freezer in your camper, it goes insanely well with snickerdoodle ice cream!
If you don't have a freezer handy, these little paper plate bowls are really easy to make!

easy tutorial: 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

*white paper plate
*craft paper edge scissors
*pretty tape, rubber bands or sticky ribbon
*4 paper clips

easy 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

Cut about 1/4 inch (o whatever height you'd like it) off the top of your circumference on your paper plate using your craft edging scissors.

easy 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

Flip your paper over so the front side is facing down and use your pencil and ruler to mark a 9 section grid. You can measure if you're a perfectionist like me.

easy 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

Use your straight scissors to cut a slit along every other line but don't cut the center square.

easy 5 step paper plate baskets for camping or picnics

Fold up one side at a time to form your basket using a paper clip to hold the sides together as you go.

easy 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

Wrap your rubber bands, tape or sticky ribbon around your basket to hold in place and you're finished!
You can line these with wax paper if you have a food that might leak through. Enjoy!

easy 5 step paper plate bowls for picnics or camping

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rocky Mountain Way

Last Summer, I wrote a list of things I wanted to see and experience in this breathtakingly beautiful state of Colorado. I was fresh off the move to Fort Collins from Orange County, California and all I wanted to do was just day trip every tiny corner of "God's Country" that I could find. I wanted to really see for myself why everyone seems to be so in love with the Rocky Mountains.

Since then, I've learned. 

Oh, I've learned!

Colorado has no rival. 

There's no place in the world like the Rocky Mountain range.

It is absolutely stunning

And it isn't just the views, it's the people. 

Mountain people are of another breed.

So anyway, last week we took a trip up through Rocky Mountain National Park to one of the stopping points of the Continental Divide which was on my Colorado bucket list from last summer. Although I've driven the canyon up to Estes Park many many times in my life, I've always taken the same highway 34. For whatever reason, it never dawned on me that there may be another route up. So when my sister took a right at the Glen Haven split, I was a little unsure as to why. 

Glen Haven General Store, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

But then I smelled the smell and everything became very clear. 

Glen Haven General Store sign, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Glen Haven General Store cinnamon roll, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

I'm telling you, these cinnamon rolls are taste bud blowing delicious. They're gooey, they're sloppy, they're melt in your mouthy. I ate mine in record breaking time. 

The whole town has 5 buildings. The Glen Haven General Store, a fire department, a bed and breakfast, a trading post and a town hall. With a town population of 11 (I assume) there was still a line out the door for these cinnamon rolls. Cyclists, townies and tourists come from all over Colorado and Wyoming for these things. I'm not even kidding.   

There's a perfect cinnamon eating spot just around the corner with a tiny picnic table nudged against an old truck and Indian teepee.

Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Once we had our cinnamon and coffee fix, we headed up Devil's Gulch Road which dropped us off at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park for our ride up to Alpine Visitor Center.

The visitor center is a nice little resting place to decide whether you'll make your way to the other side of the continent, or return to your original side. It's only open from May through October because of Winter snow conditions and sits just 2 miles North of the highest point of Trail Ridge Road.

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The views of the Alpine Tundra from up here are out of control, especially if you take the time to climb to the very top.

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

One of us wasn't very happy about it.

But we did it. 

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The other one of us was twirling around because the hills are alive with the sound of music...

Ute Trail, Ute Indian Trail @ Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

Just across the street of the visitor center is the beginning of the Ute Indian trail. It's believed that these Indians traveled by foot thousands and thousands of years ago to get through the Rocky Mountains going from East to West. To walk a small portion of something made so many years ago is truly humbling. It was one of those times I reminded myself that I'm just a tiny speck when it comes to the history of our giant world.

Last fall, an illegal campfire sparked a forest fire that burned from October to December. In late November, a crazy strong wind storm doubled the size of the fire and pushed it 3 miles in just over half an hour taking out a large chunk of the historic Ute Indian Trail. During its peak there were more than 600 firefighters on the line trying to contain the blaze. The Fern Lake Fire is the largest forest fire in Rocky Mountain National Park history.

Stupid people...


Next stop, The Continental Divide!

I was so excited to cross off something from my Colorado bucket list but my crabby kid was way beyond nap time, hungry, over the car ride and ready to be back in civilization with Bubble Guppies and her Cabbage Patch kids. I was annoyed and she wouldn't look at the camera. What you see is what you get.
Continental Divide sign in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The Continental divide runs high peak to high peak all the way from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan and separates the drainage of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
There we were, me and my kid, on opposite sides of the continent and opposite sides of the excitement spectrum. It honestly couldn't have been a more fitting circumstance.

Poudre Lake @ Continental Divide sign in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

We also got to check out the Poudre Lake, which starts the beginning of the Cache La Poudre River. This is a river with which we are very familiar. The Poudre's headwaters are located right in our town of Fort Collins, we camped next to it last summer and we visited it on our day trip up Poudre Canyon. Cache La Poudre literally means "hide the powder" in French referring to a giant snow storm in the 1820's which forced French trappers to hide their gun powder in the river banks.  

Poudre Lake @ Continental Divide sign in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

All in all, it was a great trip with my family (of which you'll see no pictures of because I never got their permission) and I can't wait to do it again in the future when my daughter is a little bit older. Maybe next time we'll make it all the way to Grand Lake? You never know...