Planning a Cool Family Vacation

Family vacations aren't always fun. It's hard to plan a trip that will make everyone happy and let's face it, there's nothing worse than being stuck in a bad vacation with whiny kids or a miserable spouse. With the long winter months now stretching before you, why not start planning a family adventure that will knock everyone's socks off? In fact, you can make your family part of the planning process too.I always tried to put myself in my kids' place: what would be fun and exciting for me as a 12 year old? What kind of vacation can accommodate a six year old girl and her teenage brother? As a kid, I can remember hating any plans that involved "learning" though my well-intentioned parents were fond of trying to use my summer vacation to educate me. I didn't want to be educated; I wanted to play outside. A very expensive family trip to Europe was a mini-disaster because teenagers tire, very quickly, of looking at cathedrals.

Trips to the beach were fun of course but there was a lot of down time in the afternoon. And there was the ever-present sunburn.How about having your family enjoy the wilderness and get a feel for the true America by planning a real cowboy vacation? The variety of activities can be infinite and what kid doesn't love to sit around a campfire at night? It's amazing how families will relax and have fun when they are far from the maddening crowd, away from traffic, hotels, cell phones, and computers. What would your family do with all that quality time?.

My partner and I run an outdoor adventure business on a 5,000 acre ranch in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountain wilderness of south central Colorado. Out here, it's as real as it gets ? we live in a one-room cabin while a herd of 60 horses grazes in the huge rolling pastures in the foothills. When folks come to our cowboy camp they hear coyotes howling at night, see millions of stars in the Colorado sky, and never have a chance to get near a television. We teach people how to ride horses, rock climb, hike, and white water raft. Sometimes folks just want to go fishing, or walk the meandering mountain roads here. We structure programs so that people can bond: Father-Son Cowboy Camp and girls-only Women in the Mountains.

Mostly, though, we enjoy having families who truly want to share an adventure.Bob and I each have raised three sons so we know how to engage the interests of a teenage boy. Bob's the real deal: he can show a boy how to throw a tomahawk, whittle a stick, or track an elk. I've been a high school teacher and love the energy of a teenage girl. They fall in love with horses, believe me.

And for harried parents, it's just plain old fun to hang around a ranch while someone else worries about cooking.You can have your pick of how you'd like to design your family vacation out West. With KB Mountain Adventures, we use our cowboy camp as a home base and each day brings a new activity. Some really adventurous families might want to try a three or five day horse pack trip into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where our beautiful four footed and sure-footed friends can take you to hot springs or mountain lakes. Our guides at Mountain Spirit Adventures set up camp and cook you great meals while you rest or explore. Honestly, the wilderness provides the backdrop for growth and bonding like no five star hotel ever can.

At dinner tonight, why not talk to the gang about a cowboy vacation? Check out our websites and start thinking about something really different for this summer. Maybe you know other families who might want to join in the fun. Imagine you and your best friends out riding the range. The possibilities for laughter are pretty endless. Ask your kids if they might want to bring a friend. Bring your sister, or a lonely nephew.

This is the place where everyone can feel at home. Give me a call if you need some help or inspiration. I used to be a lawyer and a teacher and now I'm a cowgirl. I'd love to show you where and how I live, and how much fun it is out here in the middle of beautiful nowhere.

.Phyllis Coletta and Cowboy Bob McConnell operate KB Mountain Adventures at Bear Basin Ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado.

Mountain Spirit Adventures provides horse pack trips into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Check out these websites: and http://www.mountainspiritadventures.

com And feel free to call Phyllis or Bob anytime, toll free, at (866) 383-0807.

By: Phyllis Coletta

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