Category Archives: Travels to USA

Crazy Powder in Tahoe

Three friends and I decided to take a boy’s ski trip to Lake Tahoe in March and it was a blast. By early March 2017, Tahoe had received 443 inches of snow and the powder was fantastic. Spending 15 years in Denver skiing the western slopes, this was the first time I had skied Tahoe and it did not disappoint.

Lake Tahoe

If you’ve never been to Tahoe, it’s right on the border of California and Nevada. In fact, the ski resort we visited is partly in California and Nevada.

Lake_Tahoe_Map

Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest freshwater lake in the USA, created over 2 million years ago and forged by the ice age. The area around Lake Tahoe was previously inhabited by the Washoe Native American tribe.  Tahoe was the epicenter of their territory. Here are some fun facts about the lake:

  • If you were to pour Lake Tahoe out onto an area the size of California, the water would still be 14 inches deep.
  • The amount of water in Lake Tahoe (39 trillion gallons) is enough to supply each person in the U.S. with 50 gallons of water per day for 5 years.
  • The amount of water that evaporates from the Lake each day (330 million gallons) could supply a city the size of Los Angeles for 5 years.
  • The water is 99.994% pure, making it one of the purest large lakes in the world. For comparison, commercially distilled water is 99.998% pure.

Reno, Nevada

We stayed in Reno because it was less than an hour from the ski resorts, lodging was less expensive and it offered lots of casinos. This gave us a chance to ski during the day and visit the casinos at night. We all came out pretty well in the casinos, I came back $40 richer and one of my other friends (Tom) won over $700 in 3 pulls of a slot machine! In hindsight, South Lake Tahoe may have been a more convenient place to stay and much closer to the ski resorts.

Lake Tahoe Boys

While in Reno, we found an incredible breakfast place called Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs. The plates were huge, prices were reasonable, and the taste was amazing. If you’re ever in Reno, check that place out!

Heavenly Ski Resort

On our first day, we skied Heavenly Ski Resort. The snow was soft, powdery and easy to carve through. Once you get to the top of Heavenly, you are rewarded with incredible views of Lake Tahoe in the background.

Lake Tahoe from Heavenly

Joey was definitely the best dressed. Check out his Rasta hat.

Joey at Lake Tahoe

Pat at Lake Tahoe

Tom at Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

We also skied Squaw Valley. Heavenly is a bit bigger than Squaw Valley but Squaw offers some more technical and challenging runs. The snow at Squaw was a bit icy and the winds were brutal on some of the upper ski lifts.

Squaw Valley

As you can see from the snowy trees, Squaw creates lots of snow drifts but the view is spectacular.

Squaw Valley Trees

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post on our trip to Lake Tahoe, we are already talking about making the ski outing an annual event. If you are not subscribed to our blog and would like to subscribe so that new posts come directly to your email, scroll up to the right top section of this page and type in your email address.

I’ll leave you with a final picture of me getting ready to slay the mountain.

Steve in Tahoe

Dolphins and More in the Big Island Hawaii

This is another post from past travels our family took prior to me starting this blog. It was 2005 and our boys were 10 and 12 years old at the time.  Since we had already gone to a couple of Hawaii Islands (Oahu and Maui), it was time for something a bit different – The Big Island.

The Big Island is the biggest of all Hawaii islands and the first to be occupied. The Big Island was believed to be the first island Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesas Islands set foot on 1,500 years ago.

HawaiiMap.jpg

When we first stepped off the plane, we knew this island was like no other. Many of the areas of the island are volcanic rock.

bigislandrocks

bigislandrocks

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

One of first excursions was to visit Kaloko-Honokohau, a site early Hawaiians settled. They built sacred temples here and created fishponds that trapped fish.

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You can see old artifacts that illustrate what life may have been like many years ago. The carving below was interesting enough to entice Ryan to stop using his Gameboy for a few minutes.

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Here is a fishpond that would be used to trap fish to feed the locals.

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Swimming with Dolphins

We arranged for the boys to swim with dolphins through Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and they loved it.  The dolphins are well trained and really put on a show.

swimwithdolphins

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swimwithdolphins-3

The Green Sand Beach (Papakolea)

The locals kept talking about the Green Sand Beach and how beautiful it was. So we took the 2.5 hour drive along the Kohola Coast to find the trailhead.

greensandbeach

What we didn’t realize was that it was another 2.5 mile hike just to get to the beach. Ryan was about to have a melt down by the time we made it there, as evidenced in the picture below.

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But it was definitely worth the hike, it is beautiful.

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The green sand gets its color from olivine crystals created from eruptions to a dormant volcano years ago. Nestled in Mahana Bay, this is truly a unique place and one of only two green sand beaches in the world.

Traveling around the Island

We saw most of the island and even took a helicopter ride to see the volcanic ash create new land along the ocean coast. I would love to show you those pictures but I accidentally deleted all of those pictures right after we returned. But I did save some of our pictures as we traveled around the island.

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bigisland-2

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Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this little blast-from-the-past of our trip to the Big Island. If you are not subscribed to our blog and would like to subscribe so that new posts come directly to your email, scroll up to the right top section of this page and type in your email address.

I’ll leave you with a final picture of Cameron and Ryan.

bigisland-4

 

Exploring Charlotte North Carolina

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on our travel blog because we finally moved into our new home and we have been staying put. Since January, lots of things have happened.

First, I took a consulting job with a company in North Carolina. An old friend asked if I would help his company develop a workflow solution for a fast-growing healthcare firm that specializes in collecting insurance claims.  I accepted the consulting gig in mid-January and I am having a blast working on the project.

I hear you saying “But wait: you’re retired!“. You’re right, but retirement is all about being financially free to choose what you want to do. At times, it may be traveling and goofing off and others it may be working on projects that excite you. That’s exactly what I’m doing now and I only work part-time so I still have time to embrace my passions.

Secondly, our youngest son, Ryan, graduated Cum Laude with a Physics major and Mathematics minor from the University of Florida. This young man is crazy smart and we are really proud of him (must have gotten his genius from Lynn).  He landed a job in Charlotte, North Carolina as a Data Scientist / Business Analyst. He loves the new job, we recently traveled to see him.

Visiting Charlotte

Charlotte is a clean city with a hip vibe. It has a rich history as a town that started the gold rush. A 17-pound gold nugget was found in 1799 and lots of immigrants migrated in. But then the California gold rush hit and most of these opportunity seekers headed west. Charlotte was founded in 1768 by King III of England and named it after his wife, Queen Charlotte.

Charlotte North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina

Today it’s a huge financial district, second-largest banking center after New York City. Lynn read about this huge statue of a head in one of the office parks and we visited it. It was very interesting, it was created in layers and the layers spin and line up to make a face. Bizarre but very cool. Here is Ryan and Kayna in front of the statue.

Ryan Miller and Kayna

Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina

When we were there, Nascar was in town and we got to check out the cars and there were lots of concerts and events going on downtown.

Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte has a huge man-made lake called Lake Norman. It is 33 miles long and 9 miles wide. It offers swimming, boating, canoeing and pretty much any water sport you can imagine. We drove up to the state park and rented canoes for only $5 an hour — great price and a lot of fun.

Lake Norman, Charlotte

What’s Next?

We are planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland in late July. A couple of summers ago we took Ryan to Europe so this time, we are taking Cameron. It will be a lot of fun to spend some quality time with Cameron and to see the sites together.

Postcard from Telluride

Finishing up our summer travels, we spent 2 weeks in Telluride, Colorado. It had been about 10 years since we last visited Telluride, I had forgotten how beautiful the town is. If you would like to see a slideshow of pictures we took while in Telluride, click here.

Welcome to Telluride

In fact, I would say Telluride and the surrounding area is probably the most beautiful mountain area in America, based on all of our travels.

Bridal Veil Telluride

Telluride is pretty remote. It takes 6 to 7 hours to get there from Denver and once there, it is a true mountain town. There are no major chains (Starbucks, Walmart (thank God), etc), so you better stock up on things before you get there.

Lake around Telluride

You come to Telluride to unwind or take in some outdoor sports. There are lots of mountain biking and hiking trails. However, riding a road bike is a bit of a challenge here, with only about 3 miles of paved trails. The town is small, but it has lots of cool boutique shops.

Telluride

Telluride has a lower and upper mountain level. The lower part of Telluride is the town and about 2,000 feet upwards is a town called Mountain Village (that’s where we stayed). Oprah Winfrey has land up there and plans to build something in the future. The houses are spectacular and they have a beautiful golf course in Mountain Village (too spendy for me, they wanted $195 a round).

Mountain Village

Opposite to Mountain Village is a high mountain range where Tom Cruise owns a house. It’s now for sale for $59 million, a bit out of our price range. The picture below is on a road that leads up to where his house is, as you can see it’s incredibly picturesque.

Road to Tom Cruises house

One of the attractions of Telluride and surrounding towns are old ghost towns left after the mining dried up. We visited Animas Forks Ghost Town and several others around the Ouray area.

Animas Forks Animas Forks Cabin Animas Forks Animas Forks

Animas Forks

I will leave you with some pictures from our hike up to Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride. If you get a chance to visit Telluride, I highly recommend it.

Bridal Veil Telluride Waterfall across the road in Bridal Veil Falls Base of Bridal Veil Falls Top of Bridal Veil Falls

About this Blog

This blog chronicles the travels of Steve and Lynn Miller, a couple that retired early after selling their software company. If you would like to sign up to receive these blog posts via email, scroll to the top  right sidebar of this page and enter your email address.

If you like this blog, you may also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology.

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Hiking Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride, CO

We are currently visiting Telluride, Colorado. From the town, if you peer 2,000 feet up the east side mountainside, you will see a power plant that looks like a house perched upon a ledge with an incredible waterfall that gracefully falls 1,000 feet below (Bridal Veil Falls).

About 8 years ago, we attempted to hike to Bridal Veil Falls with the boys and our new dog (our dog Katie was only a few months old).  The hike to the top is close to 2,000 feet in elevation change and the road to the top is rocky. Many people drive Jeeps and pass you along the way. Unfortunately, the hike was too strenuous for the boys and a new puppy so we turned back about a quarter of the way there.

 

Bridal Veil Falls

Fast forward about 8 years later, we are in Telluride again and I think both Lynn and I wanted a second chance at the hike so we decided to give it a shot. We have been working out pretty hard all summer, so I felt comfortable that we could do it.

Just around the first set of switchbacks, you begin taking in the view of Telluride below.

Telluride Colorado

Only another 1,200 feet to the base of the falls, so we pushed on. The views are even more breath-taking.

Bridal Veil Telluride

Before long, we encountered a waterfall that crosses the road and it is wonderful. My wife remembered that this was the exact spot we turned back with our kids last time.

Waterfall across the road in Bridal Veil Falls

As we continued to climb, we noticed the views of Telluride became more impressive.

Views of Telluride

As we walked, we talked about how we love being retired and how proud we are of our kids. We reminisced about our travels and how beautiful the world is. Forgetting the strenuousness of the hike, we looked up and we were already at the base of the falls.

Base of Bridal Veil Falls

There was a young couple there capturing some pictures and enjoying the magnificence of the view.

I told my wife if she felt up to it, we could go another half mile and see the view from above the power plant. I expected her to say “No, I’m good, we got to the base.” Instead, she said “Sure, let’s do it!”.

As we started up the next set of switchbacks we met a couple that were on a 3 month trip across the western USA and were in Colorado visiting their son before they headed out on the bigger adventure. We found we had a lot in common with them and talked along the way. Time sped by, we looked up and we were already at the top of the power plant.

Top of Bridal Veil Falls

After taking in the view, we headed back down the mountain. We noticed this section of the mountain that had previously used for mining. It had an old mining railway that was obviously dilapidated. To get this section, you had to cross over a bridge that had few wooden planks left.

Crossing over to old mine

We walked around the old mining shaft and could see where the mining carts used to shuttle ore from the mountain to the mining station at the base of the mountain.

Old mining railway

However, years have taken their toll and it’s now the railway to nowhere.

Railway to nowhere

I was surprised to see that some of the old mining carts were still stacked up along the mountain ridge.

Old Mining Carts

As we headed down the mountain, we talked about how much easier the hike was down than up. My wife was a trooper. She stretched herself a bit with this hike and I was really proud of her.

About this Blog

About the Author

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

Steve uses Personal Capital to manage all of his finances and investments because it is free and very robust. If you would like to download a free copy of Personal Capital, you can do that here.

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin

Chasing Ghosts in Colorado

Animas Forks: A Colorado Ghost Town

During our 2 week stay in Telluride, Colorado, we started looking around for nearby towns to visit. We happened to find a town with no residents. At least not anymore, it is officially a ghost town.

Animas Forks

Animas Forks was once a bustling mining town. Starting in 1873, the town eventually grew to 30 cabins, a hotel, general store, saloon, and post office.

Animas Forks

They even had their own newspaper “The Animas Forks Pioneer” that lasted about 13 years.

Animas Forks

Stepping inside of the old cabins was a bit eerie, you could imagine families huddled in the small rooms after a long day of mining. Winters would get cold here. One year Animas Forks received 25 feet of snow and residents dug tunnels to get from building to building.

Animas Forks Cabin

Animas Forks officially became a ghost town in 1920 when mining profits began to decline. Luckily, the town is well preserved and gets about 100,000 visitors each year.

Animas Forks

Getting There

Getting to Animas Forks is a bit of a challenge, unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle (preferably a Jeep). Animas Forks is located about 12 miles from Silverton, Colorado (about 2 hours from Telluride).

However, driving those 12 miles from Silverton can take about an hour because the road is narrow and rocky. Along the drive, you will see abandoned mines.

Animas Forks

You will also catch glimpses of beautiful waterfalls and incredible views.

Animas Forks Waterfalls

We drove an Audi 4 wheel drive up to the ghost town, but it was a slow bumpy ride. If we had it to do over again, we would have rented an ATV or Jeep in Silverton, that would have made the drive more fun and less rocky.

I’ll leave you with one final picture of our view on the way back down from the ghost town.

Animas Forks View

About this Blog

This blog chronicles the travels of Steve and Lynn Miller, a couple that retired early after selling their software company. If you would like to sign up to receive these blog posts via email, scroll to the top  right sidebar of this page and enter your email address.

If you like this blog, you may also like Steve’s We Retired Early blog where he blogs about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology.

Follow Steve: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

Have You Ever Visited a Car Show?

A few weeks ago, we visited a car show in Fort Collins, Colorado. There were really cool cars there, here are just a few.  Today’s post is really light on narrative, so enjoy the pictures.

Really Old Cars

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Cars from the 50’s and 60’s

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Hot Rods

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A Little Bit Funky

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Fleeing the Glacier National Park Fire

On our quest to visit all of the major US national parks, we set off last Saturday for Glacier National Park in Montana. Little did we know that more than 4,000 acres of forest would burn in the coming days. More about that later.

Bozeman, Montana

Our trip started in Colorado, and after a full day of driving, we landed in Bozeman, Montana, a funky little hip town. As we always do, we looked for a local brewery or pub. We found Montana Ale Works, a cool watering hole that offered up good eats and local brew.

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ranch

Our second day took us to an 80-acre Montana ranch to visit some early retiree friends, Bob and Robin Charlton, whom we met in 2011 after an article was written about them on the Yahoo finance site. Our first face-to-face meeting with Bob and Robin was just after we retired (2012).

We happened to be in Maine at the same time and met up at Arcadia National Park and shared a lobster dinner. Since then, we’ve kept in touch via email and visited them in Boulder early this summer.

As luck would happen, they were house sitting for friends who had a beautiful ranch in Montana. They graciously asked us if we could stop by and visit with them on our way to Glacier National Park.

Beautiful Montana Ranch

Beautiful Montana Ranch

The cabin was custom designed by their friends and is incredibly well done.

Custom designed cabin

Custom designed cabin

The cabin has beautiful mountain views, complete with horses.

Beautiful Montana views

Beautiful Montana views

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Friendly Horses

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Beautiful Blue Eyes

We spent our afternoon kicking back a few brews, chatting about retired life and enjoying each other’s company.

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Bob wrote a book called “How to Retire Early”, it’s a great book — I’ve purchased copies for our boys. Bob and Robin are about to embark on 2 full years of traveling — they chronicle their travels on their website (www.WhereWeBe.com).

Flathead Cherries

After spending a full day and night with the Charltons, it was time to head towards Glacier National Park. We kept hearing about “Flathead Cherries“. On the way to Glacier, we saw Flathead Lake and found out that there were lots of cherry groves around the lake.

Flat Head Lake

Flathead Lake

We stopped by a local cherry stand and purchased some. I’ve never eaten a cherry so sweet and juicy. If you are ever in the neighborhood, you have to try them!

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

Glacier National Park

Once we arrived to Glacier National Park, we entered the west entrance on the “Going to the Sun” road.  Our first stop was at Lake McDonald and dipped my toes into the cool and clear glacier waters.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

As we made our way up to Logan pass, we stopped to take in several waterfalls. Although I missed getting a picture of it, a huge brown bear crossed the road about 50 yards behind our car during one of our stops.

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Hike at Logan Pass

Our goal for the day was to hike to Hidden Lake. The 3.5 mile hike is not terribly difficult but offers some incredible views of mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls and ends at Hidden Lake.

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Views during our hike

As we were hiking up to Hidden Lake, a mountain goat came within about 5 feet of us. He could really care less about us, he was just moseying down the mountain without a care in the world.

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The reward for making this hike was Hidden Lake, a beautiful lake at the base of a mountain.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

On our return trip, we saw the same mountain goat eating vegetation along the way. How cool is to see wildlife in their natural habitat?

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

We finished our day by driving the rest of Going to the Sun road. Pictures hardly do it justice.

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

St. Mary Lake Tour and Hike

On the second day of our trip, we took a boat tour of St. Mary Lake, at the east end of the park. You take a 30 minute boat ride to a ranger guided hike that takes you up to St. Mary Falls.

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

The boat ride was surreal, a slow ride over 300 foot glacial water. The captain explained the biology and ecology of the glaciers and the ranger gave us insight into the forest and wildlife.

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Ranger Lead Hike

Ranger Lead Hike

The 2.5 hour hike wasn’t too strenuous, only about 300 feet of elevation change and it culminated in views of the silky St. Mary Falls. On our way back, we spotted a moose at the end of the St. Mary Lake.

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

Glacier National Park Fire

During our boat tour, the captain mentioned that the St. Mary Lake forest area had not had a major fire in about 100 years. We finished up our time at the park around 3 p.m. on July 21. Later that night, we saw on TV where a fire broke out at Glacier National Park, exactly in the spot where we had just hiked to St. Mary Lake and only about 30 minutes after we had left.

As of July 23, it has already burned over 4,000 acres and is still not contained. We also heard that they evacuated the restaurant and lodge that where we ate just before leaving the park.

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

We were incredibly fortunate to have viewed St. Mary Lake in it’s pristine grandeur. Our friends (Bob and Robin) were planning to camp there for a couple of weeks and I spoke them today, they were re-evaluating their plans because a lot of the park has been evacuated.

About the Millers

Steve and Lynn Miller retired early and now enjoy traveling and embracing new hobbies. In their spare time, they develop mobile apps. You can learn more here:

Where can you find Old Relics Surrounded by Modern Buildings?

Fort Collins, Colorado is a cool city. It has plenty of stores and shopping, great bike paths, lots of hiking areas, and a hipstery vibe. However, I think one of the coolest things about Fort Collins is that the city was built around a farming town. As you traverse the streets of the city, you will see old buildings that were left standing as new, more modern buildings encircle them.

Here are just a few examples of this.

Old Barns

This old barn is right next to a bank, eateries (Pancake House and Fuzzy’s) and a cycling shop.

Old Barn

Old Barn

Old Barn

Old Barn

As you drive around Fort Collins, you will see farmland with working barns.

Modern Barn

Modern Barn

Work Sheds

These work sheds are located just behind a bicycle shop.

Work sheds

Work sheds

Work Sheds

Work Sheds

Old Farm Houses

This old farm house has now been converted into a State Farm office.

Old Farm House

Old Farm House

This homestead has not been used for years.

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Farm House

Old Farm House

I’ll leave you with one last picture, we caught this double rainbow after an afternoon shower.

Pot of Gold?

Pot of Gold?

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Can boating get more beautiful than this?

 

My wife and sons gave me the best Father’s Day present I could have hoped for — a day on Lake Dillon. Lake Dillon is located just outside of Breckenridge Colorado and has incredible views. Mountain vistas and islands within the lake make this an ideal place for boating.

Lake Dillon

Lake Dillon

Mountain Vistas

Mountain Vistas

Renting a boat on Lake Dillon is surprisingly inexpensive. Our 2 hour rental set us back $115. The boat is an 18 foot runabout, perfect size for 4 people.

Skipper for the day

Skipper for the day

First Mate

First Mate

We cruised around the lake listening to my favorite album (Lucky Old Sun by Kenny Chesney) and my boys and I enjoyed a cigar.

Ryan enjoying a cigar

Ryan enjoying a cigar

Best Father's Day Ever!

Best Father’s Day Ever!

We watched as the sailboats raced around the lake and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the water. It was a great day.

Sailboats on Lake Dillon

Sailboats on Lake Dillon

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There were sailboats racing by as we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the water. All in all, a great day!Brought to you by Flip Flop Software

Here are a couple of apps you may be interested in:

  • Count Us Down – It’s fun to count down the days to big events like vacations, weddings, births, concerts, and sporting events. The really cool thing about the Count Us Down app is that you can share those big events with friends and family and you can count down together.
  • aMemoryJog – Organize all of your passwords and other easy-to-forget information with the aMemoryJog app. aMemoryJog works on the web and on your iPhone and seamlessly syncs together.

CountUsDownANDaMemoryJog