Estes Park Winter Festival 2016

Time for the maiden voyage of our new Phoenix Pop Up Campers Fuso Camper (PHX-FG) to Estes Park, Colorado!

When we first realized that this new adventure rig was a real possibility for us, the trips and locations to travel became endless.  The real difficulty with having such a great platform to hit the road in now became choosing WHERE to go and try out the new rig.

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After some brief research, we learned that the town of Estes Park, Colorado was hosting a Winter Festival with snowshoeing, craft beer and a chili cook-off.  What’s even better is that Estes Park is gate-way into Rocky Mountain National Park, leaving endless possibilities for outdoor activities.

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For day one we loaded up the snowshoes and headed to the demo days in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This snowshoe demo session was setup perfectly to allow for a little snow hiking before we rolled into town for the beer tasting and chili feast.  Our toddler is getting pretty sure footed in her Tubbs snowshoes.

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The Fuso Camper proved to be an AWESOME place to hide out from the blowing wind and frigid temps, both before and after our hike.  It was pretty awesome to sit inside the camper and have a nice warm cup of coffee after a family hike in the snow.

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Honestly, this trip was more about the beer and testing out the new adventure platform. Given the extreme cold and windy conditions, it didn’t take much persuading to get the crew to pack up shop and head for Estes Park.  Once we got inside the Winter Festival, we realized just how awesome this event was going to be.  The smell of chili cooking, the site of folks walking around with tasters of beer and the separate kids area with extensive crafts and games, made this festival the perfect place for us.

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The Winter Festival had some great beer and even better chili.  We bounced back and forth between the two for quite a while before our three year old decided it was her turn to have some fun.  The organizers of the Winter Festival did a great job making a family friendly environment and had an entire kids area with bouncy castles, crafts, faceprinting, smores, and a train for the kids entertainment.  It was really well put together family friendly festival.

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After the festival, we decided we didn’t really need to go far to camp of the night and chose to park the PHX-FG at the Estes Park fair grounds with the other vendors from the festival.  When attempting to “stealth” camp in a Mitsubishi Fuso you must attempt to blend in with the locals.  So we parked the camper next to a few older trailers and battened down the hatches for a windy night.  While it was an incredibly windy, the camper kept us nice and warm all night.

One of our favorite parts about this new camper is the ability to cook a legitimate meal and take our time getting ready.  So for our first morning in the camper, we had some great coffee and whipped up some eggs and bacon.  It really does make a trip nice when there is no real rush to be anywhere.

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2016-01-17 07.52.42 2016-01-17 16.18.10Estes Park 202For the rest of the day, we headed up into the Rocky Mountain National Park for some additional family hikes and photography.  We spent a snowy day driving around the park and taking in the amazing scenery.  At one point we came upon a gigantic bull elk laying down off the side of the road.  We stopped for some amazing photos and enjoyed a nice quite moment watching him lay in the snow.

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After a long day of hiking and driving around the park, we decided to stay another night at the Moraine campground.  For dinner we enjoyed making another delicious meal in the kitchen of the Fuso, while reading and listening to music.  The space the new camper provides us and the amenities within such a compact platform are amazing.

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What a great first weekend, in what we are confident is going to be an awesome new adventure platform.  If you’ve not attended one of the Estes Park Winter Festivals, I would put it on your list of things to do next winter.  The event was well orchestrated and the access to Rocky Mountain National Park provides an enormous amount of great adventures to be had.

Look Mom No Training Wheels – Isla Bikes

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We are a cycling family!

When my wife and I first found out we were having a baby, my mind immediately starting running through ideas of how we were going to keep riding our bikes. Three years later and my little girl is now riding her own bike! That’s right, at three years old; she is riding a pedal bike without training wheels.

Kids Bikes

Isla Bikes

Kids Bikes

So to say that we take our cycling gear seriously is a drastic understatement. Our bikes are prize possessions that take us on all kinds of varying adventures. When our daughter was just able to walk, we presented her with a push/balance bike. Our little dare devil spent about two years off and on with the push bike, and within the last six months REALLY started enjoying it. She started rolling around on local pump tracks with it and taking it to the park on every trip that she could. To us, it was obvious that her balance was more than sufficient to step up to a pedal bike, but what brand?

girls Bikes

girls bikes

As I stated earlier, we are SERIOUS about our bikes. So when I started shopping for my daughter’s first bike, I spent a ton of hours both at local bike stores and online reviewing what makes a good kids bike.

What I found out after hours of reading was that the fit of the bike is just as important to our little riders as it is to us.

So getting a bike that has the proper balanced geometry is critical. What this means is that the bike isn’t just shrunk, it’s appropriately sized to allow our kids the ability to balance and properly pedal. I had all but made my final decision to purchase an Isla CNOC 14 when a buddy of mine who works at a bike store called me randomly and started raving about how well built these Isla bikes were. That was all it took for us. We contacted Isla and ordered up a bike for Christmas delivery.

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The ordering process was very simple. We went over a few questions regarding our daughter’s height and inseam to make sure the sizing would work and we were off and running. We added the fenders to the order because #1 they look awesome and #2 they are nice for keeping the water down during snow melt here in the Denver area.

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The fenders lead me into my first compliment for this bike. How many kids bikes do you know that are well designed enough to actually have quality fenders as an option? These fenders are both functional and stylish. They immediately make you realize how well thought out this bike is. The fenders are firmly attached and hug the tires just enough to stay out of the way during the inevitable crash.

kids bikes

Another feature that we’ve been impressed with is the braking system. The Isla CNOC 14 has both a rear coaster brake and a hand front brake. Initially I thought it would be a while before our daughter figured out how to use the handbrake, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within a couple of rides around a parking lot she had figured out how useful the front brake was for slowing down and getting her feet on the ground before stopping. The brakes are smooth and function very well. I anticipate that maintaining them will be a breeze.

Toddler bikes
Happy Dance!

The folks at Isla have been making bikes long enough now to have come up with some really creative safety features for first time riders. One of these features we liked was the enclosed chain guard.   The free-floating chain guard keeps our little girl from finding a way to get her clothes, hands, hair, socks or any other items that don’t belong wedged into the chain. For a parent, this is incredibly comforting and helps you focus on teaching your child to ride the bike vs not damaging themselves.

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Finally I would say that the adjustability of the bike is very well thought out.

The seat can be lowered significantly and the handlebars can be moved around to accommodate all different sizes of munchkins. It’s nice to know that this bike will be able to grow with her for a little while.

toddler bikes

Our experience with Isla bikes has been superior to all expectations. They are producing well-built kids bikes that have quality components and are built with tough falls and learning in mind. Our little girl is riding a pedal bike at three years old! She is totally enjoying the experience and we are excited to have found her a bike of this caliber to learn on. Thanks Isla bikes for making an amazing bike for our little cyclist.

girls bikes

 

XShot Pro Camera Extender (Selfie Stick)

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XShot Pro Camera Extender

Recently we snagged up an XShot Pro Camera Extender (a selfie stick) GoPro Pole that we’ve really been enjoying.  We’ve had a few different cheaper models that have performed like CHEAP accessories. This is NOT the case with the XShot Pro. The quality of the knobs, telescoping arm and handle is top notch.

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XShot Pro Camera Extender Package
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XShot Pro Camera Extender package

The extender comes pretty much assembled straight out of the box, minus adding the adapter for either a GoPro or your regular handheld camera. One of the only drawbacks to this model is the need for an additional allen wrench (comes in the box) to change from one adapter to the other. This is not a big deal if you only plan on using one camera during your outings, but if you would like to go back and forth between a GoPro and a different camera, you’ll need the allen wrench handy to change them out. On a positive note, the knobs to tighten the camera in place are of great quality and are easy to utilize even with gloves on.

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XShot Pro Camera Extender – adaptors
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XShot Pro Camera Extender – allen wrench

Having a “camera extender” is not just about taking selfie shots (although it is handy for doing that). The camera extender allows you to take pictures from totally different angles than you were previously able. We also find that we get better video angles while chasing our toddler around when we have our camera on this extender. Capturing the moment via good photography and videography is all about changing the angles from which you can capture the shot.

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XShot Pro Camera Extender
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XShot Pro Camera Extender – wrist strap

I’m a firm believer that the quality of new gear is based on the performance, so check out some of the shots we took this week while snowshoeing outside of Boulder Colorado. If you are in the market for a new angle on your pics, follow this link and checkout the Xshot Pros ASAP.

 

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XShot Pro Camera Extender
selfie stick
XShot Pro Camera Extender
selfie stick
XShot Pro Camera Extender

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