What was your favorite memory from the past year?
Zoe: Going on the road trip because there were a lot of memories and it was fun. I climbed a mountain.
Ellie: Turning 7 because I like this age.
Molly: Watching us all grow throughout Road Trip 2015. We all grew as individuals, but it is our family bond that strengthened immeasurably. I doubt we’ll ever be able to live up to this experience, but that’s not going to stop us from trying again in 2016!
Zak: Molly constantly encouraged the girls to write about and remember a small moment. I decided to embrace one this year: sitting on top of Twin Sisters Peak. I still go back there mentally whenever I need an escape. That is not only my favorite memory of the year, but one of the top memories of my life.
What was your favorite way to spend time in the car?
Ellie: Reading because it’s fun. I also liked playing ranger in the car because I want to be a ranger when I grow up.
Zoe: Playing with my sister. Also, discovering and reading the Babysitter Club books.
Molly: I enjoyed actually driving, but mostly eating unhealthy snacks and listening to a variety of music. We tried hard to find music that appealed to all four of us and occasionally lucked out and found a song that caused us all to be headbanging, lipsynching, and rocking out.
Zak: I don’t have a specific thing, but I did enjoy all the car toys: Game Boy, the car puzzles, crosswords, that type of stuff. Also just looking out the windows at the scenery.
What was your favorite hike of the past year?
Zoe: Probably Twin Sisters because it felt like it was the biggest and I was on top of a mountain. I think Ellie and I are the only kids in the school who have climbed a mountain.
Ellie: My favorite hike was the Grand Canyon because of how deep it was and how pretty the view was.
Molly: Certainly not the Hollywood sign hike. Oh my goodness there are too many: Bryce, Canyonlands, and Pinnacles were hikes that were remarkably peaceful with unmatched beauty. I was thrilled we survived Arches and will never forget surviving a flash flood, but Mt. Washburn aculminated everything we worked for all summer.
Zak: There were so many good ones. Each one seemed more amazing than the last. So shout outs to: Twin Sisters, Glacier Point in Yosemite, Bryce. I’m going to pick Canyonlands though. It was a cool, deserted area that I can’t wait to go back to for more.
What were your feelings after climbing your first mountain?
Ellie: Ahh, I don’t remember.
Zoe: Amazed, surprised, excited, I felt like I accomplished something. I felt like I became the queen of the world because I was at the very top of a mountain.
Molly: I think Twin Sisters Peak was on Day 3 of the trip. I wasn’t expecting to feel so accomplished so soon into the trip. After a heck of a lot of work, we were on top of a mountain, the tippy top. We had a 360 degree view of the world with only the crisp air to remind us that this was actually real, and not a crazy dream.
Zak: It was very peaceful for me. I’m not really sure if there’s any other way to describe it.
What was your favorite restaurant you visited this year?
Zoe: I have no idea! I ate at so many good restaurants. I know my least favorite. McDonald’s. We ate there once. I don’t like fast food. I liked all the food on cruise and the food at the Kimptons. I also like Bella Bacino in LaGrange. That’s probably my favorite.
Ellie: DiNico’s! I just love that pizza. Their pizza is so good.
Molly: So many!! La Taquaria, San Francisco’s best burrito place was awesome! The melding of the flavors was unreal!
Zak: Again there were so many good ones! I’m going to go with Outpost at The Goodland. It was a perfect night: beautiful outdoor setting, live music by the adjoining pool, (free!) appetizer of roasted brussel sprouts and artichoke, great fish tacos.
What was the best thing you ate this year?
Ellie: Of course dessert! And shrimp. Calamari. Shrimp, dessert, and calamari.
Zoe: I’m glad I discovered the world of Cheetos. I think this was the first time I ever had Cheetos.
Ellie: Oh, and pizza!
Molly: Zak makes a killer roasted red pepper alfredo pasta dish from scratch that is out of this world. It requires the use of every pot and pan we own and the clean up process is longer than the creation process. It is heavenly, and he makes the whole dish and cleans up without asking for an ounce of help.
Zak: This is a ridiculously hard question. Since I don’t even know where to start I’m going to go with the carnitas tacos and ice cream from the Lewis Sweet Shop in Empire, CO. It’s hard to find true local gems, I’m so glad we stopped here.
What was the best thing you drank this year?
Zoe: Oh, that raspberry fizz from the cruise.
Ellie: Strawberry lime lemonade from Wild Monk.
Molly: Sips from the giant bottle of Disaronno amaretto we brought along on the trip. I finished every afternoon of the trip with a hotel plastic cup filled with ice and topped with the Disaronno.
Zak: We discovered a place in Estes Park that would deliver pizza to a bar down the block. After a long day of hiking a pitcher of Coors Light is absolutely delicious. I think I’ll go with the martini bar on the cruise though, and really pretty much any of the drinks from the cruise.
What was your favorite hotel you stayed in this year?
Ellie: The Goodland! It was so fun and the pool was so big and they gave us free floaties.
Zoe: The Monaco in Pittsburg. Our room was bigger than an apartment.
Molly: Each Kimpton makes the list in some way. We were always treated like the royalty we aren’t and our every need was catered to. Impeccable service at each check in, each dining experience, each wine hour, each coffee bar, each room delivery was what made up life-long Kimpton fans. I think my favorite, favorite would have to be the Goodland. That’s my “happy place” that I mentally escape to when the going gets rough at home.
Zak: I’m going to go with an unconventional pick here and choose the Allegro in Chicago even though it’s pretty low on my list of favorite Kimptons. What it did have going for it is that it was the first Kimpton we stayed in, so it was our gateway drug that lead us to many amazing experiences to follow. Thanks Kimptons!
What was your favorite city you visited this year?
Ellie: Brookfield because I live here. It’s where all my friends and school are.
Molly: Interesting question. We’ve visited big cities and small towns literally all across the country this year. I loved the small town atmosphere of Moab, Utah (and can’t wait to spend almost a week there this year!) and I really enjoyed exploring San Francisco for the first time. However, my favorite has to be Chicago. I think we spent 8 or 9 nights in the city, just 13 miles from home, and my goodness, what a great city. The food, the people, the sights, the sounds, the attractions. We went to a Cubs and a Sox game. We rode bikes all around Northerly Island and explored Maggie Daley park a few times. We found awesome bars and small dives in neighborhoods, and ate some of our best meals of the year. We continued our traditions of going to the Walnut Room and the National Restaurant Show at McCormick Place. We ate too much Garrett’s popcorn and $1 bottles of water from guys with coolers on corners. We ate more fresh cheese and prosciutto at Eataly and fell in love with Dylan’s Candy Bar. All in all, it really is the best and I can’t wait for more adventures so close to home.
Zak: I have a soft spot in my heart for Ft. Lauderdale after all the time I spent there in high school and college, so it was fun to go back. Although it’s sad to see what is apparently a decline of the area.
I visited Key West for the first time and had a beer at Capt. Tony’s, saw the chickens running around, and walked past the crowds at the southernmost point. San Francisco was awesome, amazing sights, food, and people I’m ready to go back there anytime. L.A. redeemed itself a bit from our first experience there, although I’m still not in any rush to get back. Estes Park was great, I’m excited we’ll be able to get back there again this summer.
For some reason West Yellowstone, MT is pretty high on my list. There’s really nothing too memorable about it, so it must just be the location. Or maybe it’s the Slippery Otter.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Zoe: Spending more time with family! And also going on Road Trip 2016. We’re doing that for sure, right?
Molly: Of course Road Trip 2016! I can’t wait to explore some of our favorites from this year’s trip and discover new places.