- Ellie: My favorite hike was Mt. Ida because we’ve been trying to do this hike for so long and I felt so accomplished at the top.
- Zoe: I have two my first one is Mt Ida because of all the amazing views. Also the Fiery Furnace by ourselves because it was fun to go exploring.
- Zak: There were a lot of amazing ones. Chirihua and The Narrows at Zion come to mine. My favorite hikes though are still the ones in the Rockies. I think I’ll pick backpacking to Lake Odessa since backpacking in RMNP has been on my bucket list for a long time.
- Molly: There are so many to choose from. I have to say that summiting Mt. Sherman was the best though. Accomplishing it with just the girls was really special. I’m proud of them and myself for that hike.
- Ellie: Ben Michael’s because it was so special and unique from the other restaurants went to.
- Zoe: Again I can’t choose Ben Michael’s or La Patrona.
- Zak: I discovered on this trip that one of my favorite foods is New Mexican enchiladas smothered in green sauce. We had it several times and they were all good, but the atmosphere at Ben Michael’s made that stand out.
- Molly: Mary’s homemade Greek chicken was amazing, but the company, the setting, and the conversation made that dinner my favorite.
Favorite ice cream
- Ellie: Moose and More because if you order half and half you get two scoops. It just works out.
- Zoe: For cone Haley’s in Estes Park for ice cream moose and more in Cortez.
- Zak: The frosty that Zoe bought me. Hard earned and a delicious reward.
- Molly: The blue cornbread and honey ice cream at Moose and More was insane!
- Ellie: 32 – We got to explore on our own and go out to dinner with Ranger Mike. It’s a win-win and it just works again.
- Zoe: 32 – Same as Ellie for the same reasons.
- Zak: 41 – We hiked Ida, ate at the wheel bar, and sat by the river at the Ponderosa Lodge. Shout out to 7, 21, and 32 as well though.
- Molly: 32 – Four reasons. 1. Doing the Fiery Furnace along. 2. Ellie getting to tour the rangers’ offices at Arches. 3. Finding out Zoe got into a program at Notre Dame. 4. Dinner with Ranger Mike.
- Ellie: Too hard to choose since I don’t drink any.
- Zoe: The sip of my mom’s coffee I stole at a Starbucks while she was going to the bathroom.
- Zak: The mocha Molly bought me for our anniversary.
- Molly: The Kimpton coffee at Amara after a strenuous yoga class. Runner up is the Berry’s coffee on their deck watching the mountains wake up.
- Ellie: Tecolote because it was the best breakfast we had had in so long.
- Zoe: It’s a three way tie between Tecolote, Notch Top, and the Stewarts homemade breakfast. They were all so delicious.
- Zak: Tecolote in Santa Fe. Awesome everything and the bread basket was out of this world.
- Molly: Thunderbird Cafe, home of the ho’ made biscuits. I had been dreaming of their biscuits and gravy for two years.
- Ellie: PBJ&C’S We went to a lot of good restaurants but I’ve just gotten so used to it.
- Zoe: PBJ and C for sure. Just kidding. It was actually the Mediterranean restaurant we went to with Mary in Telluride.
- Zak: Bryce Canyon Lodge. It’s always a cool experience to get to eat in the original CCC lodges.
- Molly: Grandy’s. The perfect combination of homestyle cooking and fast food.
Favorite non Kimpton hotel
- Ellie: Embassy Suites. It was just nice.
- Zoe: Embassy Suites with the made to order breakfast and amazing wine hour.
- Zak: The Eldorado Suites in Bisbee, which was a spur of the moment change, was very nice.
- Molly: I have two. The Bryce Canyon Log Cabins and the Ponderosa Lodge in Estes Park.
- Ellie: Mine was the Hotel Born because it was so different than any of the other ones.
- Zoe: Hotel Born because it was quaint.
- Zak: The Born in Denver was very nice.
- Molly: Hotel Born.
- Ellie: Turkey. I’ve never seen one so close.
- Zoe: Yellow bellied marmot. They’re so much fun to watch while they’re “dancing”.
- Zak: The deer that spent the morning at our camp at Lake Odessa. It was almost like we were companions in the forest for an hour.
- Molly: It is so amazing seeing a bear in the wild. We are always on high alert and work hard to not see one, but I’m glad we got to see one in a safe(ish) setting.
- Ellie: Yucca because we know so much about them now and there are so many different kinds to see.
- Zoe: Pelo Verde because they’re so amazing.
- Zak: Broad-leaf Yucca. Just seeing them is therapeutic.
- Molly: All the wild flowers on our hike to and from Conundrum Hot Spring.
- Ellie: 14 – Because of the flat tire. It’s our bad luck day.
- Zoe: There are none. There are some days not as good as others, but there isn’t a worst.
- Zak: 39 – I sat in a hotel room. The girls climbed a 14er.
- Molly: 30 – Natural Bridges. We weren’t in our groove and weren’t patient with one another.
Most boring day
- Ellie: 45 – At the beginning I was able to be excited for the whole trip, but today it was just sitting in the car with no mountains to look forward to.
- Zoe: 45 – All we did was sit in the car with no stops.
- Zak: 45 – Nothing happened at all.
- Molly: 45 – Nebraska is not a thrilling state to drive across.
Favorite non Ranger Mike ranger
- Ellie: I can’t pick. There were so many amazing rangers who inspired me to keep going and reach my goal of being a ranger.
- Zoe: I have to agree with dad about Ranger Michael Piper or Ranger Andrew. They were both informative.
- Zak: Ranger Andrew at El Morro and Ranger Michael Piper at Mesa Verde. The passion, enthusiasm, and dedication they had for their parks and jobs are a model for excellence.
- Molly: I admire rangers so much. I do get excited when we meet women rangers who excel at their jobs. Ranger Leslie at El Morro and Ranger Amber at Sunset Crater Volcano are passionate, smart, and exactly who I want Ellie to be inspired by.
- Ellie: I’ve got two. Definitely the mountain necklace and the “I played in Moab” shirt. Wait, I have three, also Mr. Cactus.
- Zoe: I have two, both of the necklaces I got. They are both special and will inspire me.
- Zak: My second favorite souvenirs are the pins I collected. I’m proud to say I’ll be well over the minimum number of pieces of flair this year.
- Molly: The mountain necklace that the girls got too. I will wear it and remember our adventures.
- Ellie: Horse Fly because we saw the Berrys and the food was good.
- Zoe: There are so many to choose from. Just to name a few, Avery Brewery, Horsefly Brewery, and Three Rivers all were good.
- Zak: Mancos Brewing Company. Made me want to move there.
- Molly: Sentinel Peak. It was the perfect beer and nachos to share after summiting Wasson Peak.
- Ellie: Colorado because it is so different from where we live. But I guess everywhere is.
- Zoe:Colorado, it will always be my second home.
- Zak: Colorado, but I really liked New Mexico as well.
- Molly: Utah. It has been for years and this year didn’t change my ranking.
Favorite rest day
- Ellie: 35 – Telluride with the Berrys.
- Zoe: 35 – Telluride with the Berrys.
- Zak: 40 – White water rafting with Stewart’s, BBQ, Rocky Mountain NP.
- Molly: 40 – White water rafting and lunch with the Stewarts in Idaho Springs.
- Ellie: The one I had a sip of at Conundrum Hot Springs. #BadParents
- Zoe: I would never drink beer, so none.
- Zak: Same as Ellie, the Telluride Brewery “Project”, a bourbon barrel aged IIPA.
- Molly: Although we like really good beers, especially IPAs, I’ve found the pure joy of enjoying an icy Coors Light after a hard, long, hot hike.
- Ellie: Black Cherry soda from Polly’s Pop.
- Zoe: The back cherry soda from Polly’s Pop. It was very refreshing after a hot day.
- Zak: Any of the ones I had after a long hot hike. My least favorite was our tire on day 14.
- Molly: I have to agree with Zoe and Ellie.
Favorite NPS site
- Ellie: There was so many great sites this year, but my top two are Arches and Rocky Mountain
- Zoe: That’s impossible to choose, it’s like asking which parent is your favorite.
- Zak: My favorite is still Rocky Mountain, but I’m most excited to go back to Chaco Culture.
- Molly: I have absolutely no idea. I loved all the learning we did and all the new sites we were able to visit. Arches, Bryce, El Morro, and Petrified Forest are at the top of my list.
Most annoying habit of each family member
- Ellie: My most annoying habit is sleeping on top of mom while camping.
- Zoe: Claiming other people’s farts: gotta get those beans.
- Zak: Saying things other people don’t agree with.
- Molly: Having my phone volume on while hiking so I can hear how many miles we’ve gone on my hiking app.
Most helpful thing a family member did for you
- Ellie: Mommy and Daddy helping me when I didn’t feel good.
- Zoe: Ellie motivating me while we were hiking.
- Zak: Molly and Zoe getting me a thermometer when I thought I had a fever. Also, everyone helping with road trip chores.
- Molly: Zoe and Ellie being good sports when we hiked Mt. Sherman together. I had been nervous to be the only adult, but their cooperation made it so easy.
- Ellie: This is an odd one, but mine was Estes Park because it feels like a tradition to go there.
- Zoe: Santa Fe because it was very casual.
- Zak: Mancos, CO. It a great location near desert and mountains. Also had a great restaurant and friendly people.
- Molly: I agree with Zak. We found great food, met good people, and were able to enjoy the vibe and setting.
- Ellie: The same one as Zoe.
- Zoe: The one next door the Homewood Suites because it was very big and warm.
- Zak: Kimpton Amara, I had a great time swimming with the girls and watching the stars.
- Molly: Conundrum Hot Spring. Does that count?
Place you most want to return to
- Ellie: Chaco Canyon because there is still so much for us to explore.
- Zoe: Mancos
- Zak: Also Chaco Canyon, we didn’t have nearly enough time there. Of course RMNP too.
- Molly: All of them. Seriously, I would redo this trip in a heartbeat.
- Ellie: This trip taught me so much about how to reach my goal of being a park ranger and not trying won’t get you any further.
- Zoe: To not give up.
- Zak: To keep reaching for my goals.
- Molly: To appreciate the little things.