Tubing at Beaver Meadows

Clara, Jeromey, and Mariana, dressed in winter gear in front of a sign that says "SnowTube Park".

The girls and I have been clamoring to go tubing since early December, but the mild winter and a busy schedule prevented us from going. We finally carved out time in late January to make our way up to Beaver Meadows Resort near Red Feather and had an absolute blast.

The last time I had been to Beaver Meadows was during my Campus Ministry Days at John XXIII, over 20 years ago. As I was researching tubing locations online, Beaver Meadows made the most sense when considering experience, price, and travel time. We purchased our tickets the night before and booked a 2-hour window from 12-2.

The drive up there was pretty, and with the mild winter, the roads didn’t give us any trouble. We stopped at Subway in Fort Collins and picked up lunch for afterward.

The tubing hill is very well-run. They have a pully-lift system that brings you up by your tube, and once you’re up there are multiple runs to choose from. As someone with a moderate tolerance for speed, I didn’t find the runs too scary. The girls learned the hard way that you may not want to go down head-first, but we luckily escaped injury and enjoyed our other runs.

We used the GoPro to capture some videos of our runs. Clara wore it at first and took some awesome videos:

She and Mariana also formed a train down one of the runs as well.

I also joined in on the train, but had to take the front on this run:

Finally, Mari and I took one last “race” down one of the parallel runs:

Despite having a lift take you to the top of the hill, tubing took more out of us than we expected. By the time our two-hour window was up, we were ready to be done and enjoy our lunch in the back of the truck:

We would highly recommend going to check out Beaver Meadows. They’re open on weekends through Spring Break and will scratch that itch for some winter fun.

Help the Girls in Laps for Learning!

Later this week Clara and Mariana will both be running in their school’s only fundraiser, “Laps for Learning”, and would love your help!

Both girls are asking for a one-time pledge for the laps they’re going to run. Mariana claims she’ll run 13 laps, while Clara thinks she’ll run 2 (each lap is about a 1/4 mile).

This is the school’s only fundraiser for the year and 100% of all money raised will stay within the school. Mariana’s school plans to improve its outdoor learning garden as well as purchase interactive boards for its classrooms. Clara’s school will be using its funds on technology and wellness.

The girls will be running this Thursday, October 5! Any contribution, no matter how small, will help them reach their goal! Your contribution is tax-deductible, and I can work with you to get a receipt from the school if you’d like. You can give online using the buttons below, or if you’d like to mail a check or use another service to send the funds, I’ll donate on your behalf – email me and we’ll figure it out! – jeromey [at] balderrama.org . Thank you for supporting public education!

Family Photos in Jim Thorpe, PA

While planning our Jim Thorpe trip, my sister put forth the idea of organizing a family photo shoot while we were all together. She researched photographers and found Nikki Slivka Photography, who did such an awesome job capturing the beauty (and chaos) of our family of 15.

As all parents know, kids aren’t always cooperative photo subjects. It was a challenge during our session, but the kids enjoyed having some props like a parachute, bubble gun, and a ball, which helped us create awesome candid shots. The rolling hills of Jim Thorpe also created a beautiful setting.

I can’t recommend enough that any time you get together as a family, you seek out a photographer to capture your time together. I know it’s not always cheap, but I’m so glad that we did this.

Snow Day!

Snow Day!

It’s not unusual to have snowfall in Colorado before Halloween, but given the fires that are ravaging through Colorado, this large amount of snow has been a welcome reprieve. Down here in Windsor, with nowhere to go, we’re happy that we got a special Sunday Snow Day that spilled into Monday!

We set out for tubing yesterday and lasted about 20 minutes before we were too cold to be outside. I felt brave enough to put a plastic bag over the DSLR and snap a few shots with the telephoto lens. The girls absolutely had a blast.

Important note: The girls’ faces are blue because they were wearing face paint, we didn’t keep them outside until their faces changed color!

COVID-19 at 3 Months: Zig Zagging Those Invisible Lines

This week will mark the third month of severe life disruption due to COVID-19. We’ve been one month into the “Safer At Home” transition, where things are trying to re-open and run at some limited capacity, but there’s still an emphasis on avoiding large gatherings – all along with the backdrop of 10+ days of major protests due to George Floyd’s murder.

Right now there is a sense of security that lies with being outdoors. The current belief is that virus spread is significantly lower when you’re outside, especially in this warmer weather. Watching these protests where thousands are gathered sets off alarms in my “socially distant conditioned” brain. Many are wearing masks, but it seems like all social distancing consideration has gone out the window. I know it’s for a righteous cause, but I can’t help but be concerned about whether we’re going to see super-spreader events that will manifest in the coming weeks.

One gets the sense that people are taking this less seriously as the weeks go by. It seems that every outing shows fewer people wearing masks. The mask-wearing seems to have devolved into a cultural issue, with people forgoing mask-wearing to make a political statement against being told what to do. There is a mixture of people cautiously taking the recommended precautions, while others are flaunting their disregard for them to make a statement. The frustration is definitely understandable as guidelines continue to evolve, as well as seeing a double-standard applied to the condemnation for people opening their businesses early, all the while thousands are chanting and screaming in the streets.

At home, it’s become difficult to explain the disparity of behavior to our kids, why we try to uphold certain standards when they see that others aren’t being as rigid. We struggle as we try to convey that the girls will need to continue to make adjustments and maintain awareness to do things they previously did before, but you do get a sense that they are also missing the normalcy. Clara, who always hates going shopping, told us that she misses going to the store.

There is quite a bit I miss about the pre-COVID life, but as things open up I’m still very reluctant to resume those activities. Despite missing people-watching in a coffee shop while I work, there’s no part of me that feels comfortable doing that (even if the opportunity arose). The same goes for my indoor spin cycle class, but in large part that I’ve become accustomed to biking outdoors on the trails. We do miss taking the girls on activities to the museum, library, and swimming pool, but the opening of those places seems to kindle apprehension about those activities.

My biggest hope is that Clara will be able to go back to school when fall comes, I’m cautiously optimistic, but we’ll see what occurs from the protests and whether we’ll see any epidemiological consequences.

Fingers are crossed, prayers are said.