Vacationing at the YMCA

My husband had to take his vacation time this week. Long story short, he thought he could just cash it all in like he did last year, but they wouldn’t let him cash any in unless he took a week off. Take a week off, cash a week in. (Thank you, universe.) So, he took all of this past week off.

We cleaned out the basement some, he hung out at home some. I tried to get him to go out with his friends but he never did.

Thursday we left to go up to the mountains and stay at a “lodge” and enjoy the winter activities.

We went to the YMCA of the Rocky’s Snow Mountain Ranch. It’s an old farm that was converted into a guest ranch. There are still historical buildings there, and the history has been preserved throughout the ranch. They have several types of living quarters. The lodges provide a basic room with bathroom. Some of them have a mini fridge and microwave in them, some don’t. It looked like they all had a balcony, lobby area where games, coffee, tv’s and books were provided, ours had a fireplace in the lobby which seemed to be a drawing point. There were also cabins, small and large, newer and older. The cabins were for more than one family and out of our price range for this weekend, though it might be a lovely place for a family reunion. There were “vacation homes” offered, which I didn’t get to check out, and in the summer there are yurts and campgrounds available. All in all the actual accommodations were fine. Not exciting or luxurious, but clean, well taken care of, safe and comfortable.

To explain a little about our trip I will explain something about myself, I am a planner. If I don’t get the normal time to plan things out, I feel totally unprepared and wierded out. I didn’t get time to plan this trip – and I didn’t get to do enough research. As a result, we really hit the mountains too early – not enough snow to even sled, the ice skating rink hadn’t frozen over yet, we heard the ski conditions were terrible so we didn’t want to spend the money on that, which disappointed my son. We ended up in the cold, with no winter wonderland. I believe the ranch would be pretty fun when the snow comes in and packs up. They have cross country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, horse drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, a sledding hill, and more. Most of that was closed still, as we have had a dry late winter.

We made the most of it. The boys hit the pool several times – I hit it once (swimming really takes it out of me now). The pool was clean, well taken care of, and they had a small slide and a climbing wall which you could jump into the pool from for older kids. They also had life vests for the little ones, which my son really took to. There was a craft shop which my son really loved. There were a large amount of options to choose from, the prices were reasonable, and the lady who was working there both times we came really was helpful. We made a ceramic owl piggy bank together and they fired it. It turned out lovely and my son is so proud of it – it looks professional with the fired glaze and the details we put on it. We did a few smaller crafts too. There was a game building with Foosball, a pool table, ping pong, large trikes that the boy had fun on, rollers skates, balls, etc. They do have a climbing wall but that was closed because they were completely re-vamping it. There were some family programs we participated in. Dodgeball seemed to be a big hit with both of my boys, a free craft in the library was offered, family game night. We rode horses for an hour in the freezing and blowing cold. We played board games  (some we brought and some they had to borrow) did homework, read, hung out together, used our imagination, had an art contest, just had a great time. The boys “tussled” a lot – which is what the 6 year old was calling wrestling this weekend. The second day it did snow and was frigid, but the snow was light and dry so sledding and snowball fights and snowmen didn’t work, even when they were brave enough to go out in that cold.

Yesterday on our way home we stopped by a big snow tubing place for the boys to get their sledding fix. That was fun for them. They had more than an hour of sledding down a giant hill, being towed back up, and going again. I stayed in the nice warm hut.

All in all we had a great time.

The “ranch” we stayed at would be perfect for a family going skiing. It would make a great base camp. I think it would be even better to meet a group of family friends at or your cousins – if the kids had someone to play with it would make the ranch much more fun. If you had a family who enjoyed skiing with you and the kids could entertain themselves in the evening, it would be ideal. The rooms were clean and warm, there weren’t any “extras” but we didn’t really want any. There was a TV in the lobby of each lodge – I liked not having one in the room and didn’t take our portable dvd player either – no movies or cartoons for anyone for 3 whole days. (Well, mom and dad watched Netflix on the kindle fire after the boy was in bed one night…) We really spent time together as a family away from home and distractions. We learned some things about each other and we enjoyed each other’s company. The food options were limited but tasted good and weren’t too “fast food”. You do have to watch the time for the cafeteria – they have a set time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and if you don’t get there, you may have to eat at the grill if it’s open. The grill food was fine – but more fast foodish. They offered things like grilled cheese, microwave pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, etc. We had brought healthy snacks and food for my son who doesn’t eat regular food, so we were fine if we missed a meal at the cafeteria. The ranch was fun, but I think it would be better as part of a larger vacation – as I said, as a base camp for skiing and then to use the facilities at the camp on one of the days for relaxing, or in the evening.

I would like to see what the ranch offers in the summer. I think that might be more our style. They have fishing, hiking, horse riding, canoeing, campfires, a very nice lake close by, several hot springs areas close by, archery, a zip line, and a lot more. They still have the craft store, the game building, and the swimming pool as well as some family programming.  I noticed a lot of “groups” up there, some were a bunch of teenage boys together with very little adult supervision – but they were polite at the cafeteria and allowed my son to play with them in the game room without complaint. Some were even nice to him and included him without being asked. One group of teens were from out of the country, one group seemed to be more abled teens paired up with less abled teens, working together, helping them out, and in charge of their partner’s well being. That program intrigued me. The ranch also has camps in the summer, so I suppose that would be something to keep in mind as far as how busy it is.

Over all, the ranch wasn’t quite what I expected. We went at the wrong time (which is my fault) and the facilities weren’t all as I had pictured – but I suppose that is the danger of assuming how a place might be. If you are looking for a cheap alternative to family or couple’s weekend near a ski town (there is one at Winter Park Colorado and one at Estes Park Colorado which I can’t speak to the quality of) and have plenty of adventurous spirit, check it out. It isn’t new, shiny, luxurious, or exotic (to me), but it is a nice, clean, safe mountain vacation spot with plenty to do and an opportunity to spend time away from the normal every day experience. If you like the outdoors and want a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this might be just your thing. I am glad we went and got away from it all.

As we ate breakfast the last morning I asked my son what his favorite part of vacation was. He said “spending time together.” Any vacation that makes a boy say that is a winner in my book.

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