2021 Rocky Mountain Vacation

The summer of vacation continued in August with a trip just me and the kids to Colorado. We met my parents for a few days in Estes Park, by way of South Dakota, then came home through Kansas for a couple days.

These family trips are always quicker than you want, but there were some great moments.

South Dakota

Falls Park with rocks and waterfalls
Falls Park in Sioux Falls

We drove across Minnesota (stopping at Schmidt’s Bakery in St. James for donuts… very solid) to South Dakota with stops at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, and of course the Corn Palace, and Wall Drug. We drove through the Badlands, but didn’t stop.

Falls Park was way better than I expected. Even with relatively low water, it was pretty amazing. We could have spent lot more time exploring.


Rocky Mountain National Park sign
Myself at the Rocky Mountain National Park sign

Of course the highlight was Rocky Mountain National Park. I love the classic photo in front of the park sign. The kids wouldn’t do it with me, so I did it on my own (and another shot with my mom).

I haven’t spent much time on the Estes Park side since 2002, so it was amazing to be back. I did miss out on Glacier Falls because the Bear Lake road is super busy and requires an extra pass, but I did catch some other new and old highlights.

Chasm Falls
Chasm Falls

An old highlight was Copeland Falls. Since Lexi is very susceptible to altitude sickness, she stayed back while my dad, Milo, and I did the Old Fall River Road ride to the top and back.

Copeland Falls
Copeland Falls

A new highlight was the Wild Basin area and a short hike to Copeland Falls. Lexi and my mom joined me for this early morning hike. Early meant we missed the crowds, it was still fairly cool, and a moose ran into the road right in front of us.

This area and the hike were exactly the Colorado experience I needed. I could have spent a lot longer and hiked a lot further, but this was still pretty great.

Sunrise over the mountain at Copeland Falls
Looking east at Copeland Falls


We stayed in Kansas for a few short days to see my grandparents and help my parents do some cleaning. Less photogenic for sure, but I did bring my drone (see below).

Other than family, highlights in Kansas included Mind Sculpt Games, which is a surprisingly good game store in Great Bend that also had tons of used and loose Lego (we really don’t have anything like it in Minnesota).

On the way home we stopped at Me & Ma’s Bakery in Concordia, Kansas for donuts (pretty solid as well) and Omaha for Bricks & Minifigs and The Bookworm bookstore (cuz you gotta break up that drive somehow).

Near Great Bend, Kansas
Aerial view of where my parents live in Kansas.


It’s hard to talk about traveling in 2020 or 2021 without talking about COVID-19. I’ve gone on three vacations this summer because we couldn’t go anywhere last summer. Once we were all vaccinated, travel seemed much more possible and safer. So I quickly booked three vacations.

Of course vacationing in June felt a lot different than August. The Delta variant is surging across the country, and it’s much more transmissible. There are a lot of conflicting reports on what the vaccine does and doesn’t stop. It seems you can still get COVID with the vaccine and you can still spread it. The main benefit is the vaccine is highly effective at protecting against a case of COVID so bad it requires hospitalization. So that’s certainly encouraging. Please get vaccinated. But it’s perhaps not the magic bullet we thought it would be. Especially when a significant number of people refuse to get vaccinated, allowing more infections and more chance of mutations.

We avoided crowds and wore masks indoors. In a very few places it was required, but not many. A few people voluntarily wore masks, but not many. It’s amazing to be out doing things and hugging people. But there’s also this nagging worry that we’re not through this yet.

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