Do you pack a lot into vacations?  Would you rather relax on a beach instead?  A lot of people think that the way we “vacation” is bananas, but what they don’t understand is that we don’t really consider these trips to be vacation time, or down time.  These experiences are the education of my children.  This is no joke.  A trip is the chance to learn through experience instead of through a text book.  We take these trips very seriously and pack in as much learning as possible.  Every family has to determine the way they want to learn and for us, this is the best way possible!

We started our day from Custer State Park and were headed towards our hotel near Denver, CO.  The quickest way is to go almost entirely through Wyoming, but in my quest for my children to see all lower 48 states before they turn 18, I was determined to do some type of interesting site in Nebraska.  We had originally wanted to do Chimney Rock because it’s one of the most recognizable places in Nebraska and we thought it was hilarious that it used to be called “elk penis” by native people.  Instead we decided that we wanted to see Agate Fossil Beds National Monument because we had been fascinated by the Mammoth Dig Site and wanted to learn more about paleontology.

First thing first, we entered Nebraska and saw the infamous Chimney Rock aka elk penis on the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign.  We had to stop to capture the moment!

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YES!!

We arrived at Agate Fossil Beds and the rangers were so kind and welcoming.  I got the impression they don’t see many young families round these parts!  We were happy to have made the journey.  Although I was disappointed we didn’t get to approach the actual fossil bed, we did get to see a movie about the site and to see many bones that were found there.  The truth is that there are many more bones to find in the beds, but they are waiting for time to pass and hopefully for different excavation methods to be found.  Amazing foresight.

We enjoyed the visitors center and were fascinated that relatives of camels and rhinos roamed North America at one time.  The amazing things you can learn in the middle of nowhere.  😉

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Here are the children in front of the fossil beds.

We hopped back on the road towards Colorado.  The route brought us into Wyoming, which I was totally unprepared for, so we decided to make a stop into Cheyenne instead of just passing by.  We parked, stretched our legs and happened upon a cute festival in the downtown area.  We had some ice cream and enjoyed our time out of the car.

We finally arrived in Colorado and made our way to a hotel in Westminster, a small town in-between Denver and Boulder, not far from where my cousin lives in Lewisville.  My husband Hank flew in today and we were finally together again!  Joy!!

The next day we headed to Hammonds Candy Factory very early for a free tour of the facility.  It was a lot of fun to see the old fashioned tools pulling the candy and the candy canes being rolled by hand.  They even give you a free candy cane at the end!  My kids loved that part.

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We hung out with my cousin and her family for the rest of the day at her home.  Followed by a yummy dinner in Boulder at Pearl Street.  We spent the evening walking around Pearl Street, watching the performers and just enjoying being together.  ❤️

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Photography credit to my beautiful cousin Rebecca Larsen-Slusarchyk.

Our last day in the area was reserved for time in Denver and some more time visiting family.  We made a trip to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which was free for us because of our local science center season pass.

It was a really nice science museum and we enjoyed our time there.  The children loved playing in the water cannon splash area outside the museum.

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We had a nice dinner in downtown Denver and walked around enjoying the ambiance of the city.  We ended our day playing with cousins for a few hours and said our goodbyes because we were off to Rocky Mountain National Park next!