Embarking on our first annual mountain adventure

Yesterday we hit the road and headed for Grand Lake. A common destination when I was a child and for that matter all through high school and even after. I have been fortunate enough to have the chance to come up here for my entire 31 years of life and it has been an amazing blessing and a great time to share time with the family and friends. Emily and I are fortunate and blessed to have jobs that only require the internet so we packed up the boys, the dog, an angry cat and three weeks of stuff and headed out the door. We hope to enjoy all that the area offers including hiking, swimming (kind of, the water is super cold), hot sulfur springs, horses, Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road, a variety of lakes and more.

 

We kicked things off yesterday with a great drive up followed by a quick trip into town to the candy shop and playground. Some really good friends just happen to be in the area and we were able to extend a place to sleep and had the chance to grab some quick fellowship which has been awesome. They will take off today and then we are on our own till the next visitors arrive.

 

Looking forward to making some awesome memories with the boys and Emily! Here are a few shots that I took yesterday!

 

How much did your Starbucks really cost you? Gas mileage and the cost of driving

Starbucks Nap Run is a SuccessMany times over the years I have looked at driving to different locations as a pennies on the dollar type of situation. However, recently my wife and I made a special errand and somehow started talking about the cost of driving places. This might be because we own an SUV that weighs as much as the Titanic and our wallet certainly has paid a similar fate as the Titanic due to craptastic gas mileage our vehicle gets (and yes, it’s our own fault!). My wife and I are both avid coffee drinkers and although we don’t consider Starbucks the best coffee out there by any means we do consider it a consistent alternative since we cannot make the trip to Crema or Happy coffee in Denver very often. This past year we moved out to what most city folks would consider to be the middle of nowhere. The closest shopping center is five miles from our house but once you are there you have access to pretty much anything you would want. It was decided the other day that we would take a quick Starbucks run for my wife’s birthday. So we mounted up and headed to the closest drive through Starbucks. There is actually a walk-in Starbucks at the five mile mark but we were interested in getting a little bit of a drive in as well as try and get our two and half year old son to take a nap. The car is apparently a magical place for him.

As we pulled up to the window at Starbucks to pay for our snooty caramel macchiato’s we wondered, how much did these coffees cost us with travel and all? Well you are about to find out and to be honest, it is crazy!

So here is the math for you. Starbucks is 8.2 miles from our house (shame on us for requiring a drive through. First world problem and snobbery anf coffee snobbery at it’s best).

I did some quick calculations and figured out that it basically cost us a whopping $0.28 cents a mile to drive our beast around town. We average about 14mpg. That is terrible, but dang this thing is sweet in the snow!

So at 8.2 miles that puts us at a 16.4 mile round trip and therefore put the cost of just driving to Starbucks $4.59 plus the cost of our coffees. That my friends is pure insanity. We have sense been having conversations about how we can drive less. Use the other car more and maybe even get a different car with better mileage. The next time you are standing at the store wondering if you should drive to the next place and you think, it may cost me more to drive there than if I bought it here, that statement could be entirely true. Especially if you drive a tank.

I did the math on a few other cars to see how much is would cost to drive them to Starbucks. Here are the results…

Saab 2004 9-3 Linear – $2.46 ($0.15 per mile – This is our other car and probably a better choice for those one off quick trips)
Toyota Prius – $1.47 ($0.09 per mile to drive)
Ford Fusion Hybrid – $1.31 ($0.08 per mile to drive)

So why don’t we get another car you ask? As mentioned we have thought about this and it is still on the table although we have other ideas as well. One of the reasons we bought this particular vehicle was third row seats for that day when Emily finds out she is pregnant and we need that extra room. Also as discussed that thing is a tank and I feel pretty bad for anything that hits us or we hit. The safety of it both on an average day and in the snow is something that at least helps me justify the cost. Maybe not the best excuse but certainly a factor. If you are wondering how you can determine the cost of driving per mile just follow this simple formula…

Cost of a tank of gas ÷ Total miles per tank = Cost per mile

Now pick a place or three that you drive to on a regular basis and get ready to be depressed. Have a great day!

Some Thoughts About Being a Dad and Watching Sports

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So this is probably a bit of a random tangent but was dealing with it a bit today and thought I would just pass along some thoughts. Had the opportunity to bless my lady with some extra sleep this morning and so I was up with the boys at about our normal weekend time. These guys actually sleep pretty well so we are talking about 8:45am or so. Not bad for a 4 1/2 and 1 1/2 year old. We pretty much shot the breeze, made some pancakes and then just kicked it. However, mid morning came a long and we had yet to turn on the TV although I knew that one of my faves was about to start. Lame or not the Nascar race was about to kick off. I decided to turn it on and flipped between that and what I think was a replay of the highlights of the 12 hours of Sebring. My oldest was cool with watching some Netflix and I played with the youngest while we watched the cars go round and round. You have to understand these races are somewhere in the 3-4 hour range and can be a commitment. Most of the time I try and catch the last 50 laps and try not to get involved as they are a huge time suck and the same can be achieved by watching a recap or the last few laps. I was struggling with it this morning though a bit cause after my wife had woken up I my son repeatedly asked me to come play with him in the backyard while the youngest took a nap. I was kind of in and out throughout the race and ended up getting to watch quite a bit of it and the last 50 laps or so. The point of why I write was because I was surprised yet again how hard it can be sometimes to peel myself away from the things that I want to do to take the opportunity to pour into and change my sons life. Him knowing I love him is way more important than any race or game that I can watch but it still seems to be a battle. Today was a good reminder that I need to always pick my sons, my wife and my family over burning hours over something I 1) have no control over and 2) I can catch highlights of later on and get the same effect. Of course I would like to see how it all unfolded but the bottom line is I can follow it and probably do something far more important with my time at the same time. Not trying to impress my convictions on any one else, but just thought it was good food for thought and something that I need to keep working at and improving on. My family is so worth it.

Easy to Play Conversation Friendly Dice Games

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Headed over to a good friends house later today and just know that we are going to have some great conversation and catching up to do. However, we may also get the chance to break out a game or two as well. With both of our family having two kids a piece and often times chaos ensues. The two games that I will throw out there allow you to really take your turn and enjoy some friendly competition while at the same time being able to hold a conversation or keep track of the little ones as they play with each other and just have a good time.

The first game I will recommend is Catan Dice. It takes the same basic principle a of Settlers of Catan and turns it into what can really be a single person dice game based on high score really. There are some bits of strategy, however they are simple enough concepts and choices that you really don’t have to keep your head deep into it like a standard game of Settlers or Catan. Once your turn is over you just pass the dice and go about your conversation.

The second game I would recommend is Phase 10 Dice. We had played this in the past and as you would guess it is a simple spin off the popular card game but takes probably a third of the time to play. You are rolling a total of ten dice to meet the requirements for each phase. The most complicated task that you will face in this game is some basic math and scoring. Outside of that you will be off and running and again this simple dice game will allow you to easily engage in conversation as well as keep track of any little ones that you might have running around.

Of course we may not even crack in to these games this afternoon but it is always fun to take them along in case someone would like to dive into a little bit of competition.

 

What Can I Get, Turned Into What Could I Give

Snowy Day in Lakewood, CO

Had an interesting little life lesson this morning. We were eating breakfast and just kind of hanging out when we heard a knock at the door. My son of course jumped up immediately to run to answer it. We opened it to a 13 year kid looking to make some money shoveling our drive and front walk.  It has been snowing since Thursday night. The heavy wet stuff. This morning is the first time we had seen a break and the sun was shining a little but making the snow a little bit heavier than usual. We typically pay around $10 for someone to shovel for us on a light snow. I asked the kid, who now I know as Vincent what his price was. He was asking for $10-$15. I nailed him down for

the lower of the two prices and told him to hit me up when he was through. After 40 minutes he was only a 1/5 of the way done with the job. I then had a shift in my thinking with a little push from my wonderful wife and instead thought why not go help him out and at the same time pay him more. I threw my boots and jacket on and headed out the front door.

 

We talked about football, the Super Bowl and who our picks are. Both of us are leaning toward the Giants. We have simply had enough of the Patriots, although I am not sure a 7th grader has the recollection of why. Vincent proceeded to help me with the side walks, brushing off my car and my wife’s friends car. He was very nice and gracious to my son that joined us about half way through. It was actually nice to have help. We completed the job and I gave him a little business advice on future clients. We shook hands and I wished him good luck with his football dreams of which we discussed extensively and I handed him $20 and told him to come back again sometime. He was clearly thankful and very polite. Hoping someone else gets the blessing of getting to give this morning as well. I think it is easy to always figure out how I can get a deal or make something cheap. I think this morning I received far more by giving away a little bit of money and time. Hopefully it made an impact on Vincent, maybe it didn’t, however I know it made an impact on me and my kids and my family. Pretty good morning so far.