June 2012


As someone who is still mildly afraid of driving in the snow, summer is the perfect time to check out the cute ski towns that pepper the mountains west of Denver. Plus, it’s currently 104 degrees in the city and my pregnant self doesn’t have air conditioning. To the mountains!

About an hour and a half west of Denver on I-70, just past the town of Frisco, is Copper Mountain Resort.  If you get a condo in Center Village, you’ll be able to easily walk all over town and to all the main summer attractions. The Copper Creek Golf Course (970-968-3333) is closer to the East Village, but it’s still just a quick ten minute jaunt away from the middle of town.

 The mountain resort is pretty quiet during the week in the summertime, without half of Denver’s REI clad-snowboard toting population up here, but there is still a lot to do. Hiking and mountain biking trails crisscross used-to-be ski trails all up and down the mountain. If you don’t feel like pedaling up at 9,000 feet, you can load your bike (rentals available at Gravitee and Peak Sports) onto a chair lift (for $10) and coast down. Before heading down, check out the BBQ joint at Solitude Station at the top of the American Eagle lift. Instead of biking or hiking, I took advantage of the paved running trail (Rec Path to Vail Pass. Pick it up just west of the Union Creek Parking Lot, west of Center Village) along the gorgeous West Ten Mile Creek. I did NOT run all the way to Vail, though that would have been cool. Maybe next year.

Back inside Center Village, there is an outdoor climbing wall, bumper boats on and zip lining across the tiny West Lake, a go-kart track, and a bungy trampoline. If you are into more serious activities (horseback riding, ATV tours, fly fishing, etc.), Copper Guest Services can hook you up (970-968-2318). Although the shopping and restaurant scene isn’t much to blog about, places are open year round. If you are really after fine dining and perusing art galleries, head west until you get to Vail. Back at Copper Mountain, there is a littlegrocery store, with to-be-expected high prices. Bring food from home or stop at Frisco on your way up to save a little money.      

If you want a little more action and excitement, head up to Copper on the weekends. Fri-Sat-Sun events going on all throughout the summer. This coming weekend (June 29th – July 1st, 2012) is a big one: It’s Copper Mountain’s 3 Ring Weekend, with free music, kids’ activities, a carnival, and the annual Copper Half Marathon and Trail 10K. Fireworks are also advertised, but that may be a no-go since all of Colorado seems to be currently burning down. Check out their summer schedule here.

Lodging can be booked through Copper Mountain’s website, which provides links to their own properties as well as condos to rent. We stayed in one of the Union Creek Townhomes, which was lovely. It had a garage parking, hot tub, kitchen stocked with staples and cooking gadgets, a porch that overlooked the creek, and comfy beds.

Even if I suddenly become a computer programming genius (not likely), there is no way that I could submit my resume with the other 7,000 applications DAILY that the company acquires. The reason?  Google employees are never more than 100 feet away from free food.

Google recently sponsored a teacher-workshop I attended. The workshop caught my eye because they offered free  breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How could I refuse? I spent the weekend happily eating bagels, pizza, cookies, and M&M’s as I worked on computer simulations that will (hopefully) convince my students this fall that learning Geography is awesome.

But on the tour through the Google Boulder campus, it was revealed that their employees get free food EVERY SINGLE DAY. Plus snacks. And soft drinks. We are talking serious spreads. Lunch included a BBQ of elk burgers, bison burgers, veggie burgers, and fried rattlesnake, cookies, a salad bar and the aforementioned soft drinks.

Furthermore, if Google employees should for some reason happen to find themselves hungry between meals the need to walk 100 feet in a random direction until reaching a “micro-kitchen,” a Google sponsored snack shack. I slipped some chocolates in my pocket, and when confessing my non-crime (it WAS free, after all) to my fellow teachers, they all started pulling Cliff Bars and string cheese out of their purses and bags.

In addition to all the free food, Google also has “decompression rooms” where employees and take catnaps, recreations room filled with rock climbing walls and pool tables, and a company gyms. If it’s time for a meeting, these overfed computer programmers can meet in a teepee or a gutted VW bug instead of a boring ol’ conference room.

Taxpayers should be relieved to find that public school employees are not treated to such luxuries. There are no rock climbing walls at my school. There is no place where teachers can take naps, but this in an activity I’m pretty sure I could be fired for anyways. We may have a BBQ in August to kick off the school year, but elk/bison/rattlesnake have never been on the menu.

Not as bad as it sounds! In fact, so many couples these days are taking vacations during the second trimester of pregnancy that this type trip has been dubbed the “baby-moon:” one last chance to go on vacation without having to worry about strollers and swim diapers. I certainly wasn’t on a romantic baby-moon (hard to do when you are single and traveling by yourself), but the twenty hour drive from Denver to Seattle turned out to be just as enjoyable as always, despite being five months preggers. I explained to some friends-with-kids that the trip was easy and the baby kicked less while on the road, which I’m taking as a sign that she likes sleeping in the car and will therefore be totally down for long road trips. They all laughed at me, sadly shaking their heads.

Here are some tips for a comfortable ride:

Snacks:

For me, food is always the most important consideration when road tripping. There was a time in my life when I refused to cross state lines unless there was a bag of peanut butter M&M’s melting on the dashboard. Coolers stocked with cans of Diet Pepsi have also been a must. My traveling companions have insisted on stopping at cheesy diners, classic road stops, and Taco Bell.

However, I did things a little bit differently this time, swapping out the Diet Pepsi cans for water bottles (freeze a couple bottles of drinking water the night before so you’ll have cold-ish water for day two) and forgoing fast food. Before the trip I cut up strawberries and veggies to snack on instead (keep radishes and carrots in Tupperware filled with water and the snacks will stay crunchy all day). For sandwiches at picnic stops, deli meats are a no-go. Something about fetus killing bacteria (apparently), so I went with the classic peanut butter and Doritos on wheat bread. Delicious.

Stopping:

Conventional wisdom/my doctor told me to stop every hour to get up and walk around. Okay, that would have been absolutely ridiculous. Stopping at every single rest stop in the five northwestern most states has never been high on my bucket list. I tried to force myself to stop at least every two hours, but when I’d go three or four, I didn’t seem to have suffered too much. Frequent stopping to walk around is recommended to so circulation in your legs isn’t restricted. Stretching and flexing in your seat can also help things.

Drowsy driving on the other hand should be avoided at all costs. Don’t book hotel rooms before your trip, with lofty plans on making it ten hours in one day. Play it by ear instead, stopping for the night whenever and wherever you are when you get tired.

Overnight Camping:

I have to admit, I wasn’t really sold on the idea of camping, but I threw my sleeping bag and tent in my car anyways, just in case. When I pulled into Hardin, Montana I was exhausted, ready to be done driving, and not willing to spend $80 at a Super Eight. (Seriously. That was the going rate. I’ve paid less for a suite at Mandalay Bay.) I trudged over to the RV campground, paid $15, put up my tent, and had a surprisingly comfortable night. I’d set my tent up on a slight incline, and the uphill sleeping position resulted in my first night in three weeks without heartburn. Yay, camping! The drawback to pregnant camping is the annoying need to go to the bathroom at night.

And that’s it! Eat healthy, stop often, and don’t be afraid to camp. Pregnant road tripping is a piece of cake, even if you’re doing it by yourself.

**Update: At seven months pregnant, I’m just finishing up a two week road trip through the midwest where temperatures have been consistently above 100 degrees. Pregnant road tripping remains fun and doable even in summertime during the third trimester 🙂

Check out more resources on pregnant traveling on scoop.it.

“What do you mean you didn’t bring hiking boots?” My brother asks, exasperated. I shrug and he starts wondering aloud if his friends can supply me crampons along with hiking poles and snow gear.

“Um, you know your sister is pregnant, right?” My dad asks dubiously, not for the first time.

My brother gives me a quick glance, decides that I will be fine, and continues muttering about the snow pack levels and the need to pick up some M&M’s.

I can’t wimp out now. There are M&M’s involved. I tie plastic grocery bags over my socks, put on my running shoes, and figure I’d be good to go.

And I was! We took the West Fork Foss River Trail eight gorgeous miles (four up and four down) past two lakes, over two bridges, and past some of the biggest trees I’d seen since my trip to the Redwoods. The trail held the prefect hiking combinations: It was long and  challenging, there was unexpected scenery, it was just a little scary, and we all felt the need to high five each other upon reaching our destination.  

The first 1.5 miles to Trout Lake was pretty easy. The trail was great and included a new bridge, so river crossing wasn’t a problem. (Yet) We pulled into the picnicking spot along the lake and all the guys in the group immediately began throwing rocks into the water. What is it about guys and throwing rocks? I don’t think I’ve ever been near water without some male trying to skip a rock across it. This phenomena holds true from my friend’s 1 year old son to my 65 year old father. After all the good skipping stones had been hurled into Trout Lake we continued on.  

The trail got a little steeper after Trout Lake, but still easy to follow and the views of waterfalls, valleys, etc. were great. There were a couple snowy patches, but nothing I couldn’t stomp through in my running shoes. Trickles of water started running down the trail, but my water-proof socks/grocery bags held up quite nicely.  

At mile 3 (or possibly 3.5) things get tough. The river creates a waterfall across the trail and there was nothing but snow from here on out. My brother’s friend fished some yaktrax out of her bag and helped me pull them over my shoes for the upcoming snow. I don’t think I would have continued if not for the extra traction.

The river was a little sketchy, but not exactly a death trap. My primary goal was to not fall in the water (goal attained), with a secondary goal to keep my shoes dry (goal NOT attained). The dog hiking with us picked up on the tension as we all crossed the river and let out an uncharacteristic bark. The scariest part wasn’t the river though, it was looking up at the bridge we had to cross. From down below it looked like nothing but a log stretched across a waterfall with banks of snow on each side. When we got closer it turned out to be a legitimate bridge, so all was well.  

The rest of the trail to Coppe rLake and the two lakes beyond was completely covered in snow. Not having skills in the finding-the-trail-in-the-snow arena, I wouldn’t have continued on by myself, but another one of my brother’s friends took the lead and we all confidently trekked after him. He did not disappoint. After a little bit of wandering around (including trekking across some not-so-safe snow banks where sliding and post hole possibilities were numerous) we found a frozen pond, and Copper Lake beyond.

To celebrate a propane stove was whipped out and we all had grilled cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa. I am totally bringing such a stove with me on my next big hike. Words can’t even describe how much better the melted cheese was compared to the peanut butter-Dorito sandwich that I had packed. After lunch everyone (except my pregnant self) took advance of the great sledding opportunities above the lake. This kinda freaked out the dog, who kept trying to save people from flying down the hill.

We got back to the empty trail parking lot right before nightfall (a little after 9:00pm, up here in the Pacific Northwest), and exchanged those high-fives for a day well spent.   

To get to the trail head, Drive US 2 east towards Skykomish. Continue east for 1.9 miles, passing the Forest Service ranger station. Pick up a $5 trail pass here. Turn right ontoFoss River Road(Forest Road 68). Continue for 4.7 miles (the pavement ends at 1.1 miles), turning left onto FR 6835. Follow this road for 1.9 miles to its end and the trailhead. There is a very clean and not-bad-smelling pit toilet at the trailhead.