Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get Your Goofy on with "Travelers of the Lost Dimension" at Stanley Marketplace

(This post was originally written for the Stapleton Moms blog)

Photo credit: Adams VisCom
From left: Leigh Miller, Adrian Egolf, Diana Dresser, Bruce Montgomery
My family went to see Travelers of the Lost Dimension at the Stanley Marketplace last weekend, a silly, fun, campy immersive theatre experience that left my 4-year-old son repeatedly exclaiming, "This was the best best best best best day ever!"

Did you know there's a dimensional rift underneath the Stanley Marketplace? We didn't until we visited, courtesy of our low-tech guides at Mission Control. (We realized our kids didn't know what television fuzz was and had to explain - how's that for feeling old?)

Callandra (a.k.a. Graham's cousin, Diana) guiding the crew to safety
Supplied with our survival kit and personal atmospheric tank (read: balloon), we ventured into the Lost Dimension, encountering Callandra the fortune teller and her prophets, dodging rift worms, watching some fabulous Olympics-style dancing, participating in a live television show and art therapy, and even playing an interstellar video game (bring a quarter!).

The beauty of this show is its complete and utter willingness to be goofy. The more you buy in and play along, the more fun you will have. We had a great "crew" (fellow audience members) who screamed at the rift worms, gave advice to the guide, and cheered and threw roses for the dancers. The four-person cast and one-person crew pull off a masterful symphony of multiple characters (each with its own name and accent), wild costumes, and fun surprises.

Our Crew
The show runs just about an hour, so my 4- and 9-year-old kids had no trouble walking around (there are a few sit times to break up the action). The audience (maximum 45 people per show) is treated like a beloved cast member itself, and the ticket includes a free beverage (beer, wine, or fountain drink) at the Stanley Beer Hall for the day of the show and a passport of other offers for the Stanley Marketplace to use later.

Travelers of the Lost Dimension only runs through May 21 (after being extended since every show was sold out), so make sure you get your tickets before the rift closes!

To learn more and purchase tickets, visit

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Break Road Trip to New Mexico

(This post was originally written for the Stapleton Moms blog)

We've been in our house for about three years now and still have pretty bare walls. To remedy the situation, we decided to spend our spring break this year in New Mexico, and the art centers of Taos and Santa Fe are only a 5- to 6-hour scenic drive from Stapleton. It made for a great family road trip, so I wanted to share our experiences with you:

The incredibly stunning Spanish Peaks on the road to New Mexico

We stopped in Taos on our way to stay in Santa Fe, and visited the old Plaza area and a couple of galleries. We really liked an artist at gallery in Taos, but since we were just getting started, we filed it away for on our way home if we still liked his work best. (Spoiler: we did end up liking it best - see below for details and a special Stapleton Moms' promotion from the gallery!)

Hanging out with Padre Antonio Jose Martinez in the Taos Plaza

In addition to all the art and natural beauty, New Mexico is filled with a ton of history. We visited the oldest house in the U.S. (c. 1200) and the oldest church, which happen to be right next door to each other in Santa Fe. We also spent quite a bit of time in the old Plaza area in Santa Fe, which is larger than the one in Taos but very similar. Lots of great shops, restaurants, and galleries. We ate a lot of tasty New Mexican food (different than Mexican!) and had our fill of delicious sopaipillas.

Inside the San Miguel Mission (the under-floor dates from 1300) 

In the center of the Plaza

My daughter's favorite O'Keeffe painting
Our first full day in Santa Fe it rained and snowed, so we opted for a couple of the area's incredible museums. In addition to the oldest house and church, we visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art. At the O'Keeffe Museum they gave the kids sketch pads and pencils and encouraged them to make their own art as they walked, which I thought was a nice touch.

The Folk Art Museum is filled with dolls from around the world and other pieces of folk art, which the kids found fascinating (and slightly creepy at times). They also had an exhibit on the flamenco - my four-year-old son loved watching this clip of José Greco's dancing over and over again. In Lloyd's Treasure Chest we made origami swans and small, Japanese kites. It was a great mixture of look, listen, and feel for the kids.

A cold, wet day is perfect for visiting museums

We learned why so many artists flock to New Mexico - the natural beauty is breathtaking!

The kids with their magnetic kitties
The next day we checked out the Santa Fe Children's Museum, which was half inside and half outside, and full of fun family creative activities. We played with giant bubbles, conducted science experiments with ice, lifted ourselves with pulleys, built a domino creation to knock down, created sculptures with magnetic shapes, played giant musical instruments, made paper helicopters to launch, climbed, and more - it was marvelous!
Creating giant bubbles

Taking a whack at a giant xylophone

The weather was gorgeous in the afternoon, so we visited the famous Canyon Road, which has more than a hundred galleries on a relatively short strip. We visited 20-30 and got a better feel for the type of art we like and what we might want in our home. The kids looked at art and played a little Pokémon Go, so they were happy, too.

Getting up close and personal with some of the art on Canyon Road

Our final day in Santa Fe we visited Meow Wolf, which is an interactive art installation in an old bowling alley primarily funded by Game of Thrones' George R.R. Martin. Called "The House of Eternal Return," the installation is part theatre, part haunted house (without the scares but definitely with some creepy), part art installation, and part jungle gym. Our 4-year-old was rather nervous for the first 10 minutes, but then he really got into exploring. Both kids loved climbing through things like the fridge and the dryer and discovering other secret passages. We hear it actually might be coming to Denver!

Flying some kind of ship in an alternate dimension 

Taking a break to listen to nature sounds in the eyeball room

We ended our time in Santa Fe with a hike on the Black Canyon Trail just outside of town - it was cool enough at elevation that there was still a bit of snow on the ground. In a couple of weeks the area will be bursting with color!

Drumming on a downed tree

At the end of the hike with my boy...

On our way home we stopped in Taos again, because we couldn't stop thinking about the art we saw on our first day. The artist's name is Roberto Ugalde, who lives in Texas but is originally from Mexico. He has a unique way of using a palette knife and drip-painting with industrial oils to get really vivid colors and interesting shapes in his landscapes. We ended up commissioning a 48x48 painting from him (similar to the square one above my son's head to the right below) and are also purchasing a 24x48 or a set of 24x24 paintings as a diptych. Our house is about to be much more colorful - so excited!!

I just love his work!

Roberto is exclusively in the U.S. at the Michael McCormick and Sons Gallery in Taos, so we feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon this talented artist. We worked with Michael and Jamie on the best fit for our home - they were incredibly helpful and friendly. They even offered a promotion for Stapleton Moms readers - if you email them through their website and either like their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram, they will send you a free poster worth $50-60. You only need to cover shipping, which is roughly $12. Big thanks to Michael McCormick for this generous offer!

A few examples of their posters - they have dozens of different options if you have a request based on the art on their site

We had an amazing time and would absolutely visit again - gracias, New Mexico!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Snow Mountain Ranch - Fun for the Whole Family!

(This post originally written for the Stapleton Moms blog)

Last weekend, my family and I headed up to the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch for a little wintertime getaway. We hadn't been there before, so didn't know what to expect, and were all delighted. The grounds are beautiful, the weather clear, and there were so many activities to choose from, we feel like we need to go back to do more! Since it's only two hours from Denver, that makes it easy!

We visited during one of the "Break the Ice Weekends," so had even more choices for activities. We started Saturday morning with a free guided snowshoe tour to an old gold mine. None of us had ever been snowshoeing before, so were excited to give it a try. My daughter is 9 and took to it like she'd been doing her whole life - on the return she was the one leading everyone. Our 4-year-old got a little cold (it was about 9 degrees out that morning), but loved the halfway-point stop for hot chocolate and a cookie by the fire.

We found the gold mine!

Since it was a pretty chilly day and we'd had a big morning, we opted for indoor activities for most of the afternoon. We started with archery lessons at the Kiva center, which has been something I've wanted to do since I was a Robin Hood-obsessed kid. My husband and daughter were the best shot, but all of us hit the target more than once.

After archery we stayed at the Kiva center and rollerskated and played a little basketball. My 80s childhood rollerskills came in handy, and the kids loved the skating so much we came back for more on Sunday afternoon.

Next it was s'mores making at the campfire and some art at the Craft Center. There are a ton of craft options for both kids and adults for just $5. They offered a glass fusion class (making beautiful pendants) one morning, but we didn't make it. My daughter could have stayed at the Craft Center her whole weekend - poster coloring, painting (canvas and ceramic), leatherworking... Such a fun place!


Sunday morning we opted for tubing - a family favorite - and the kids played some "King of the Mountain" since there were tons of giant piles of snow. There was no fee to use the tubes, so we each got one, which we hadn't done before at places where you have to rent the tubes individually. It was a blast hooking up and all going down the hill together!

After lunch we returned to the Kiva center for more rollerskating and basketball, plus a little volleyball and air hockey. 

There were so many activities, we felt like we could have stayed a week and not run out of things to do. My husband and I really wanted to cross-country ski, the kids wanted to check out the pool, and we would have loved to fit in ice skating and the indoor climbing wall. Next time! Other activities include sleigh rides, dog sled rides, yoga, snow games, animal tracking, weird science, Little Explorers club, curling, evening movies... So much to do!

Snow Mountain Ranch and YMCA of the Rockies are currently offering Snowtacular specials if you want to check them out - you can even bring your pets! (In cabins, that is, as pets aren’t allowed in the lodge rooms...)

Snow Mountain Ranch:

January 2 – March 4: Stay three nights in an Indian Peaks lodge room at Snow Mountain Ranch for just $328 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked) Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at Snow Mountain Ranch for one low price of $792.

April 2 – April 15: Stay three nights in an Indian Peaks lodge room at Snow Mountain Ranch for just $168 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked) Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at Snow Mountain Ranch for one low price of $582.

At Estes Park Center: 

Stay three nights in a Central Lodge Room at YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center for one low price of $168 (includes two free breakfasts per night booked). Or, stay four nights in a three-bedroom cabin at at YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center for one low price of $582.

Plus, pets are allowed in cabins for just a $15 fee per pet/per night with a max of 2 pets per cabin – just in case the four-legged family members are coming along.

Guest post by Mindee Forman