So it turns out that the weather in the Rockies was pretty severe, as we awoke to reports of snow in the mountain passes. OK, I thought, so there’s been a little dusting of flakes on the summit ridges, no big deal. WRONG! As we drove at 11,000 feet across the Continental Divide, we were greeted by snow everywhere. The summits were completely white, and there was a legitimate collection of snowfall on the ground and trees. I mean, it looked like a freaking Amy Grant Christmas album cover. No lie. So there we were in our shorts and T-shirts, blasting the heat in the car as we drove through a dang sleigh-bells-ringing, snow-glistening, beautiful sight, happy tonight winter wonderland. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and drove on.

I consequently wasn’t surprised that the road in and out of Rocky Mountain National Park was closed. (RMNP is home to the country’s highest continuously paved road at 12,183 feet.) With a few hours to kill, we stopped in the trendy ski town of Vail to ride the gondola and relax with our books at Starbucks. (I also deduced from all the swanky condos and stores that I could never afford to ski there.)

We arrived at my Uncle Mark and Aunt Ruth’s house in Erie around dinnertime. They live in a great house with an airy, open floorplan and a fantastic view of the Rockies from their backyard. I introduced Drea to all the “Colorado Ackermanns” at a family get-together that night. She was obviously a big hit with everyone and we had a good time catching up with everyone.