Road Trip from Austin, Texas to Leadville, Colorado
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure page for more information.
Date of Trip:
November 12 – November 27, 2016
Our child’s age:
13 1/2 months (just over a year old.)
Spoiler Alert: This is the trip that convinced us to never drive to Colorado again with the toddler in tow.
We had to drive up there at least once this season; we had furniture, household items, and wardrobes of winter clothes that we needed to move from our house in Austin to our house in Colorado. (sometimes referred to as the “Mountain House.”) We rent this house out for the majority of the year as a furnished home, so we had to make sure it offered what it advertised.
So the road trip to Colorado had to happen.
We expected the trip to go similar to our previous road trip with her to Colorado. It didn’t.
So Bad That It’s Been Blocked From My Memory
Honestly, I think I have blocked most of the road trip from my memory because all I recall is that we decided to not do it again. In fact, we stayed in Colorado a couple of days longer than originally planned because of how badly the drive up there went. This meant we missed Thanksgiving with both of our families, who both expected to see us.
That’s how bad the drive up there was – that we missed Thanksgiving with our families.
I do remember a couple of things though, like the “puke incident.” (not to be confused with the “poop incident” we experienced with the dog, while I was pregnant with this kid.)
We left really early in the morning; probably around 4 am. My brilliant plan was to give the baby a bottle of milk so she would go back to sleep with a full belly. This full-belly sleep would award us a couple of hours to get somewhere before she woke up needing a diaper change, attention, activity, etc.
That was the plan.
Instead, she drank half the bottle and puked all over herself within an hour of being on the road.
Without many options, we got her as cleaned up as we could and got back on the road.
All with the lovely aroma of baby puke floating around the truck as we made our way through West Texas.
No biggie, I can throw her car seat in the washing machine when we get to our first stop, Ruidoso, New Mexico.
We Broke up the Trip Into Segments
We stopped in Ruidoso, New Mexico at my in-laws’ mountain home to help make the trip seem shorter, and more enjoyable. We stayed at their house for one night. It felt amazing being somewhere comfortable and to take a break after 10 hours of driving; however, it does make the trip a little longer. It also requires an additional session of unpacking and packing the baby and all of our things. It’s really about having a child. Having a child with you is what makes simple things more complicated; if you are reading this, you might kids and are probably well aware of this.
What Went Wrong with the Road Trip
It wasn’t just that she was fussy and high maintenance, but the combination of driving for long hours for multiple days, exhaustion and the upset baby made for a less-than-perfect experience. We needed a day to rest, relax, and collect ourselves once we got to Colorado so that took away from days on the mountain.
We also didn’t have a chance to go to the grocery store right away because we were too tired upon arrival. Not having groceries right away throws things off a bit as well. Meals and eating are important elements in our daily rhythm.
Why We Will Always Fly to Colorado in the Future
In contrast, when we fly; we arrive in Leadville by lunchtime and have plenty of time to go to the grocery store and even get a few runs in (Ski Cooper is about 15 minutes from our house) if we really wanted to. If we didn’t know how great it was to fly, driving might not have seemed so unpleasant.
At this point, we also have oodles of points saved up for flights on a couple different credit cards, so we are able to fly for free for a little while.
Don’t forget – kids under 2 fly for free. Do you know how awesome that is? If you don’t, it’s because you haven’t’ taken advantage of that benefit.
Please take advantage of that if you can.
Despite the Road Trip Debacle, We Had an Awesome Time
Awesome enough that we didn’t really want to go home. We wanted to be with our families for Thanksgiving and we had made commitments to them that we wanted to honor, so we left for Texas the day after Thanksgiving. That way, we would manage to see some family before the Thanksgiving weekend was over. Unfortunately, not all. But we will take what we can get and do better next time.
We stopped in New Mexico to hang out at the playground for a bit. Some outside time is always good, and what better way to soothe a fussy baby?
We took a wonderful day trip to Aspen for lunch. The drive down Independence Pass is a beautiful and such treat; the pass closes from November to May so it’s not always available to use.
We stopped along the Pass to experience the view and the elevation.
We were there for some of the first snowfall of the season. Another special treat for us; being that we are Texans. Being in Colorado for the early snowfalls of the season is a dream for us. Mostly a dream for my husband, but I have recently become a convert.
The first snowfalls bring a new energy to the season. They signal the beginning of the snowboarding season. It’s fun to watch the weather come through and slowly change the terrain and the view.
Our daughter was able to watch snow fall which was incredible to witness. Growing up in Texas, this is not to be taken lightly. It is a big deal to watch the snowfall. Real snow. Not flurries.
The Mineral Belt Trail
I trained for my half-marathon in San Antonio by running the Mineral Belt Trail. Do you know about the Mineral Belt Trail?
If you’ve been to the Mineral Belt Trail and have run in and its entirety, you know what I mean when I say it’s special. I seriously start to get teary-eyed when I talk about it. That run was the most amazing run of my life. It was also the hardest run of my life. It was spiritual and I knew I was a different person after running it.
I didn’t know the trail would be covered in snow.
I have never run in snow before.
I have never run on a trail where I had to stay alert for black ice.
I have never run that far at 10,000 feet.
I have never climbed 1,000 feet in elevation on a run.
I have never run through old mining ruins.
I have never run at the edge of an archery range.
I have never run somewhere that had my husband worried I’d be attacked by a bear.
I have never run somewhere that overlooked the town I just came from.
My sense of pride stayed with me for the rest of the trip and is still with me today. I swear I am a badass because I did that run. No one can convince me otherwise.
It was a definitely a lesson in finding and creating your own happiness.
Keystone Ski Area
We made it to Keystone on this trip and got our Epic Passes (a season pass for skiing and snowboarding) which is a delight. Keystone then became my new favorite ski area. (as I write this, Ski Cooper is my favorite ski area.)
This was our first experience in “tag-teaming” getting runs in with watching the baby.
Basically, another experience that resulted in a lot of learning.
It was hot inside the lodge chasing her around. This is where layers come in handy. It was stressful trying to keep her from getting in people’s way and from falling down the stairs. You’re not working with a lot of space here either.
Eventually, these angel sisters showed up with their iPads and that kept her occupied for some time. I know, you can judge me all you want for celebrating the iPad and my toddler, but sometimes the benefits of de-stressed parents outweigh the negative impact of technology on a child. I’m pretty sure there is research.
We Had Our First Family Thanksgiving Dinner
We managed to get Thanksgiving dinner together. I don’t think either of had much experience in preparing for Thanksgiving dinner so it was fun putting together what we did know to make a dinner for the 3 of us. It came out pretty amazing. Whew! We didn’t blow our first Thanksgiving with our daughter in Colorado.
Have you taken a road trip with a little one? How old were they? How did it go for you? Have any tips you’d like to share? We are all ears! Please let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!