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Category : Travel

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Standing at the top of Keystone and looking out over this spectacular view, I felt like I was floating outside my boots. I may have ten reasons to take the family to Keystone, Colorado, but truth be told, the breathtaking view is reason enough.

If I am being honest, the mountain itself overwhelmed me. I was a bit intimidated. Our first run down, I was feeling my 37 year old aging body a bit and things were stiffer than they had been in years past. The ski runs at Keystone are long and some of them are very steep. The longest run is School Marm, which is 3.5 miles long! My legs got quite the workout at Keystone. Luckily, I found the Spring Dipper, which was my favorite run — it was a little more gentle on my legs and let me enjoy the ride a bit more.

If you came strictly for the mountain, you are sure to be completely satisfied. However, there are so many more family-friendly activities off the mountain, which is why Keystone Resort makes for one of the best family ski vacations.

The Springs Keystone Colorado Outside Hot Tub and waterslide WaterslideThe Springs at Keystone Resort Colorado Hotels
1. The Springs

We were fortunate to stay at one of the Keystone condos at The Springs, and I have to say this was the perfect location and ideal family lodging.The condos are well-equipped with everything you need and include a large kitchen and living room with a pull-out sofa and fireplace. The Springs is just a short walk to the village and as close as you can get to the kids Ski & Ride school, which is located right next to the main Gondola. There are several hot tubs and a pool with a waterslide if you feel like taking the chilling plunge! Watching my kids run through the steam to the top of the waterslide, swimming across the pool and then jumping into the hot tub was one of my favorite memories during our stay. We also discovered the private theatre room and spent an afternoon snuggled up watching the movie Elf, another favorite Keystone moment of mine.

Epic Mix Kids Photo Keystone 2014

2.  The Epic Mix

Lift tickets have gone digital. When you purchase your lift tickets, you will receive a hotel-key-like card. This card can simply be put in your pocket, and you’ll never have to take it out to be scanned. Vail Resorts are using a ground breaking technology that embeds RFID chip into your card, and it tracks everywhere you go on the mountain!  You can log into EpicMix.com using the code on the back of your card to see your mountain stats for the day as well as mountain conditions. It will show how many vertical feet you rode that day, and you can earn special mountain pins. You can take photos on the mountain from the Epic Mix photographers and download, share and send them to family and friends. You can also follow your family and friends and communicate with them on the mountain — it’s like your own mountain social network!

Keystone Village Fire Pit and Shops

Keystone Village ice Sculptures

3. The Keystone Village

One of the things I love most about snowboarding and ski vacations is walking around the village. The main village at any resort usually gives the mountain it’s personality and adds to the experience. As parents, we appreciated the kids activities scattered throughout the village: a giant checker board and chess board, corn hole, connect four and an ice skating rink. We loved the family ice sculpture, too! The village has plenty of dining options, clothing boutiques and ski gear shops. Keystone Sports is where you will be able to pick up your ski or snowboard rentals. The Snack Shack is a great place for some frozen yogurt or let them fill up a bag of candy. The village also has a small market to pick up any essentials you may have forgotten, stock up on some groceries, wine and beer or grab a few souveniers.

Kestone Ski and Ride School Colorado family travel

Kestone Wagon for Kids Ski Gear

4. Kids’ Ski & Ride School

Unlike many ski & ride schools found at the base of the mountain, Keystone’s learning area is at the top, so your kids will get to ride the Gondola up to start their day. Keystone has an entire learning area called The Schoolyard Family Ski & Ride Zone, which is where ski & ride school takes place and is great area for riding along with your kids. Ski & Ride school starts at 9:00 am and goes until 3:00 pm; the instructors are very professional and will give you a full report on what your child did that day and what they worked on. They’ll also take your kids’ photos, and you can track where on the mountain they went through the EpicMix.

The little red wagons reserved for hauling kids’ equipment may be a small feature, but they’re definitely sanity-saving. We all know that at the end of the day everyone is exhausted, and this is when meltdowns can happen, so having a wagon to haul all the stuff was super helpful.

**Kids Ski Free**

Yes, at Keystone KIDS SKI FREE. Book any two nights, and your child skis free!

Keystone Colorado Snow FortKestone Snow Fort
5. The Largest Snow Fort

One of the most unique features of Keystone is the snow fort on top of the mountain, and they like to boast that it is the largest snow fort in North America. You will need to take the Gondola up to get to the snow fort, which is fun for the whole family, even if you have a wee little one that is not participating in ski & ride school. We did this one afternoon to take a break from the boards for a bit. The snow fort has a snow cubed maze, a few slides for the kids to go down, and don’t be afraid to stage your own family snowball fight… that’s what a snow fort is for!

Sleigh Ride Dinner Keystone Colorado
6.  Dinner Sleigh Ride

The Scenic Dinner Sleigh Ride is a great family dining experience that takes you to a small, tucked-away cabin deep in the heart of Colorado’s back country. The moment you load the sled, they offer you warm blankets for your family to get cozy and cuddle up under the stars. It happened to be snowing the night we went, so it was the perfect winter night for a sleigh ride. The little log cabin is filled with family style picnic tables set with red and white gingham napkins, mason jar drinking glasses and small cast iron pot bowls for your chili. It is a traditional Colorado cowboy dinner, with your choice of beef or chicken served on a skillet. The live entertainment is from a Willy Nelson type music man and his guitar. It’s a very fun night, and I would highly recommend it.

Another dining experience for families is Fondue on top of Keystone’s North Peak Mountain. Foundue Der Chessel

Xpot Keystone Colorado Coffee

7. Inxpot Coffee

Coffee is always important to me. Inxpot Coffee is more than just a coffee joint — it’s a locals’ favorite hang out to grab coffee, a cocktail or a cup of soup. Inside it is a cozy little cave with couches, tables, a fireplace and wall-to-wall book shelves filled with books.  So leave the kids with your spouse and settle in for an afternoon by yourself! There is a Starbucks in the village, too, but whenever you can have a local favorite cup of coffee, do it. It’s a traveling shame if you don’t.

8. Dining Options

Zuma Restaurant Keystone ColoradoZuma Roadhouse Food in Keystone Village
The first night we ate at Zuma, which is new to Keystone and had just recently opened. This is very family friendly and has a cool, chic, diner vibe. I loved the decor, plenty of room for families, a nice kids menu and great food. They also have a small game room for the kids!

Kickapoos Restaurant Keystone Colorado VillageKickapoos Tavern Food Keystone Colorado

My favorite food in the Village was at Kickapoo Tavern — we ate here twice. We had the tortilla soup, chicken lettuce wraps and the BBQ salad and all three were fantastic!  it gets crowded and can be a bit loud, but that is also what i liked about it. Everyone brings their energy from the mountain inside with them!

Keystone Colorado Snow Tubing

9. More Mountain Family Adventures

Snow tubing, ice skating, night skiing and Mountain-Top Snowcat Tours are all available for families and let you take a break from all the skiing or snowboarding. I know my kids have a hard time doing back-to-back ski and snowboard days, so it’s great when there are other family activities to try.  Snow tubing is always a favorite; it’s a lot less work but still a lot of fun. Keystone’s tubing hill is just off the Gondola and has a covered conveyor belt that brings you back up the mountain. You do need to make reservation, and you are scheduled for one hour. There are two ice skating rinks, one in the village and another one right outside the Adventure Center.

We were scheduled to do a snowcat tour, but because of the zero visibility on the top of the mountain that day, we were unable to go.

Keystone Kidtopia Ready Paint Fire Art Camp

10. Kidtopia & Art Camp

Kidtopia at Keystone is what makes both the kids and parents happy!  Kidtopia activities run daily and vary each day but include things like scavenger hunts, cookie hour, ice cream socials, giant snowball launch, face painting, fort building, disco tubing and art camp! When I asked our kids what their favorite thing at Keystone was, they both shouted,  “Art Camp”. I realize our kids were there to snowboard first, but this was by far their absolute favorite thing they did at Keystone. Even I wanted to stay and paint with them!  Ready, Paint Fire is the art studio that offers pottery and canvas painting classes during the week and has an art camp on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00am – 12:00pm. This was a huge hit with our kids.

Keystone has really thought of everything when engaging families both on and off the mountain. There is so much to do that it was hard to get it all in in just four days. We could have definitely stayed longer and still had plenty to do. Keystone has all the key pieces that make a family ski vacation not just great but really quite exceptional.

*I also know I have fallen in love with a place when my husband and I talk about possibly living there, and I buy a coffee mug to take home. The coffee mug is my official “travel tell”. It means I liked a place so much that I want to sit and think about it as I sip my coffee in the morning long after I have left.

Keystone Colorado Coffee Mug

 

Disclosure: This was a media stay for the purpose of my honest review of Keystone. Parts of my accommodations and activities were comped. We paid for all our travel to and from Keystone. I share this with you to help you make the best travel decisions for your family.

 

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It’s not everyday you get to jump around on trampolines and fly into foam pits with a board strapped to your feet! Last week I shared our family ski vacation at Copper Mountain with some helpful family travel tips, but this week I am sharing one of our favorite activities at Copper Mountain and this one actually took place off the mountain!

Our family visited the Woodward Barn, Copper Mountain which is an indoor training facility for skiers and snowboarders to practice and perfect their high flying jumps, twists, turns and tricks. So we took to the mats, trampolines and skate track at Woodward to see if we could be like the pros and turn a few tricks ourselves.

Woodward Copper Mountain Family Travel Colorado

Woodward Copper Barn

Our class started out with some stretching and basic tumbling to get our bodies warmed up. Parents can sit out and watch the class, but we wanted in on the action too! However, my husband and I could definitely feel our age a little when we did our backward summersaults. I think we both wanted to participate not only to bond as a family and show our kids we’re still cool, but to prove to ourselves we could complete the class,  and still come out in one piece.

After the warm up exercises we hit the trampolines and did some jumping into the large foam pits. As we made our way around the facility our instructor also gave us some important safety instructions. The Woodward Barn is open to anyone and offers drop in times for anyone to come and practice their skills, but they also offer a variety of weekly classes, private lessons, group classes, camps and host groups and parties.

Woodward Foam Pit Copper Mountain Colorado

Woodard Barn Intro Session

When taking an into session you should wear comfortable athletic type clothing.  We were also instructed to bring our snowboard boots. 

The last half hour of our class was spent with our snowboard boots strapped onto a board with wheels, much like a skateboard. Our kids were a little hesitant when we started on the skate ramps, because you start up on a platform and then roll down a ramp, so they weren’t too sure about the situation. The instructor assisted our kids and guided them down the platform before releasing them and letting the momentum take them. Once they got the first one out of the way they loosened up a bit. For the most part it is very easy and they go pretty slow.

After a few times at that we could move on to the skate ramps that launch you into a large foam pit! Sadly my kids were not having any of that. But my husband and I had to try it. I did not get to high off the ramp before falling into the pit, but it was so much fun cruising down the ramp and feeling just a tiny bit like a dare devil.

Woodward Shed Copper Mountain McKenna

Copper Mountain Woodward Indoor Training Family Travel

Woodwaed Copper Mountain Colorado Hudson
Woodward Copper Mountain Family Travel
The introduction class at Woodward Barn was a great family activity that gave us a break from the mountain and let us all try something different and fun. It was hard pulling my kids out of the foam pit and getting them to leave!

I appreciate ski resorts and mountains that have unique activities to offer kids and families. This was a great addition to our trip and an experience we’ll never forget. I would highly recommend visiting the Woodward Barn, the kids will love it and you’ll show your kids just what mom and dad are made of.

Have you been to Woodward or Copper Mountain? Would you want to try this?

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Copper Mountain Family Ski Vacation Savvy Sassy Moms Travel
Copper Mountain Family Ski Vacation

If you are planning a family ski vacation in Colorado, there are plenty of options. I was a little overwhelmed when looking online at all mountains and resorts. Luckily, we have some friends from Colorado who gave us some suggestions and steered us to the two they thought we would like the most — the first one being Copper Mountain.  So after flying into Denver and staying two nights in the Mile-High City, we hit the road! Copper Mountain is a just a short, two-hour drive from Denver (depending on weather conditions, of course,) which was also one of the reasons it was recommended to us.

Ten Mile Haus Copper Mountain Condo near the VillageCopper Mountain Lodging

There are several options for lodging at Copper Mountain. We stayed at Ten Mile Haus, which is in the Ten Mile Neighborhood and very close to the Center Village. I highly recommend staying near the Center Village if you are traveling with kids. It is close to the slopes, ski & ride school, and shopping, and it has plenty of dining options. Two other accommodations that are very close to the Center Village are Passage Point and Tucker Mountain Lodge.

Our two bedroom condo was two floors and had a nice size living room, kitchen and dining area with all the amenities of a vacation rental. We also had a garage for parking and free wireless internet. All Copper Mountain Lodging guests have access to the Athletic Club, which has an indoor pool, hot tubs, saunas and the Copper Spa. We were a very short walk over to the Center Village and were very happy with the Ten Mile Haus condo. It was cozy and had everything we needed.

Family Travel Tip:

There are three main villages, East, Center and West. Copper Mountain has a free shuttle that will take you to the different areas of the mountain. However, staying near the Center Village is ideal if you are traveling with small children.

Copper Mountain Ski & Ride School Rentals
Ski and Snowboard Rentals

The first time our kids had snowboards on was two years ago at Mammoth Mountain, so getting them back on boards was long overdue!

You can rent skis and snowboards for the entire family at Copper Sports. We picked up all of our rentals the night before — this is a huge time saver in the morning, and I highly recommend doing this. The rental process always takes a little while, so make sure the kids are well fed or it can be a painful process! You will have to take your things back to your condo, so if you can bring a large bag for the boots it might help lessen the load.There is an overnight equipment storage option if you’d prefer.

Family Travel Tip:

Copper Sports is also where you will purchase your lift tickets, get your rentals and enroll in ski or snowboard lessons. They sell clothing, ski masks, toe warmers and lots of ski gear  It’s a one-stop shop for everything you need to get yourself on the mountain.

Ski and Snowboard Rentals Copper Mountain Colorado Burton Snowboards

My husband and I were able to rent demo boards, which was great!  I checked out the Burton Snowboard Lip Stick and I loved it.

McKenna Snowboardning Copper Mountain Ski & Ride School Family Travel

Ski & Ride School

Our kids spent two days of Ski & Ride School. They had the same instructor both days, which I really liked. She was able to see their skill level and carry over things they learned from the day before. You child’s lesson includes rentals, lift ticket, lunch and a GPS tracking system. Lessons are from 9:30 – 3:00, and they will be grouped with other children their age and skill level. They also have a Ski and Ride School shuttle that takes the kids over to the Green Acres where they start their lessons. Parents can also ski or ride down to Green Acres to watch some of the lesson if they want, too!

Family Travel Tip:

Be sure to pick up your kids on time and tip your instructor.

Copper Mountain Ski Gear Winter Shopping

Copper Mountain Shopping

If you forget your hat, face mask, goggles or just need a new pair of warm socks, the Copper Sports has plenty of gear and warm clothing to choose from. We actually had to buy goggles and warm socks for our kids, and we found some great options here. Kelly’s Closet is a cute shop for stylish clothing and accessories for women and kids, and the store Kokomo is a fun shop for souvenirs and Colorado inspired gifts.

Camp Hale Coffee at Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain Coffee

I know a lot of families stay in condos that have kitchens so it is easier to just make breakfast and coffee right away before heading out, but there are two great coffee options right near the Center Village chair lifts. Camp Hale is inside Copper Sports and a great place to grab a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast before the kids go to ski school, or if you need another cup of coffee after all that work just getting the kids off to ski school in the morning!  Camp Hale has two other locations on the mountain: one at the East Village in Copper Station and in Solitude Station at the top of the American Eagle chair lift.

Belgian Bean Waffles and Coffee Copper Mountain Colorado
Another place to grab great coffee is the Belgian Bean. They also make waffles with a variety of toppings, oatmeal and a selection of pastries.

Copper Mountain Center Village Shopping Family Travel

Mccoys Mountain Market Copper Mountain Groceries

Through out the Center Village there are plenty of other retail shops and McCoy’s Mountain Market, which is the only place to pick up some basic groceries, snacks and beer. The market is small and might not have all the items you need depending on how long you are staying.

Family Travel Tip:

Stop at the grocery store before getting to Copper Mountain or plan on going into the town of Dillon the first day for all your grocery shopping needs.The prices will be better, and there are more options.

Village at Copper Mountain Colorado Family Travel Savvy Sassy Moms

Copper Mountain Family Ski Vacation
Copper Mountain Center Village

The Center Village is the hub of the mountain and very easy to walk around, with plenty of dining options. At night they have a few fires going for people to hang out around. There is also a rock climbing wall and ice skating rink — the ice skate rentals are $10. There is also the Alpine Zip Line, which is 300 feet in the air and goes across the frozen lake. Cost is $10 and open 2:00pm – 6:00pm.

Kids Night Out

When you spend $30 (per child) in the Village you receive 3 hours of FREE childcare from 5:30pm – 10:00pm. This service is for children who are potty trained to the age of 12 years old. You must make a reservation 48 hours in advance and show your receipts of purchases made at the Village shops or restaurants. For more details go to Kids Night Out.

Copper Mountain Colorado View Family Ski Vacation

I found Copper Mountain to be very easy to navigate, and it has a very laid back vibe. We were there early in the season, so it wasn’t too crowded and luckily we never had to wait in any long chair lift lines. It seems to be a bit younger of a crowd, but it was also very family friendly. We felt like we belonged here. It was a even mix of skiers and snowboarders, which is always nice to see. A lot of times, at other mountains, I feel more like the minority.

Copper Mountain is known for its naturally-divided terrain, which is really nice to keep people with the same skill level on certain sections of the mountain. It progressively gets harder as you make your way from the West Village over to the East Village.

The West Village has the Kokomo Chair lift that is great for families and beginners. This is where you will find most of the green runs.  Since we were there in early season this section was not open for us, so we were unable to take the kids up the chair lift with us, which was a bummer, but more reason to go back!  My husband and I loved all the blue runs and felt really comfortable on this mountain. We hadn’t snowboarded in almost two years and Copper was the perfect mountain to pick back up again!

Have you been  to Copper Mountain?


Disclosure: This was a media stay and parts of this trip was comped for the purpose of reviewing the mountain and all it has to offer families. All my thoughts are my own and I share this with you to help you find your next family ski vacation.

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We have had quite a start to 2015! We were invited to the BodyLab Launch on Tuesday (January 6) in Santa Monica. We sat down with Jennifer Lopez and her partners, Chantelle Daines and Dr. Amy Heaton who showed us a look into their new lifestyle and fitness brand. Lopez looked absolutely flawless, wearing a Brunello Cucinelli champagne-colored low plunge sweater, with a Enza Costa tan wrap skirt that had a thigh-high slit paired with nude Louboutin pumps.

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“I want to inspire women to be the best and happiest versions of themselves,” she said with excitement. J.Lo does it all and she wants to share her secret with woman to help them to become “the girl of their dreams!”

“Yes, I’m an entertainer and I’m a dancer,” Lopez explains, “But ladies, we’re all athletes. We all have that in us. We do things for our men, our children, our families, our careers. What we have to do, it’s like a marathon daily. Every single day.”

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The 45-year-old (yes 45!) is the face and founder of the lifestyle and fitness brand, tailored for women. “I joined the BodyLab family not only because of their commitment to creating great health and fitness products for women, by women, but also because of their approach to the holistic lifestyle. It’s not a solution-in-a-bottle. It’s not a fad diet. It’s part of a health regimen that makes your metabolism work as hard as you do. It’s a way to love your body.”

We would have to agree with Lopez when she says “It’s like a marathon daily,” but it was relaxing to spend a few hours at the gorgeous Annenberg Beach House surrounded by inspiring woman drinking yummy protein smoothies! Lopez’s favorite is the chocolate protein!

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BodyLab is available in stores now. To learn more, visit www.BodyLab.com.

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For our winter family vacation we headed to the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado to do some snowboarding, but first we spent two fun filled days in Denver, which was just a enough to get a taste of this mile high city. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown Denver and I have to say, this was the perfect location. The Embassy Suites is in the middle of it all and conveniently close to the 16th Street Mall which runs right through the heart of Denver.

Embassy Suites Lounge Denver Convention Center

Embassy Suites Denver Convention Center

Embassy Suites Downtown Denver

The Embassy Suites Downtown Denver is a great property for families because of their large one bedroom suites that have a nice size living room area that includes a large desk, which is great since my husband and I usually take our work with us when we travel. These suites also have a small kitchenette with a small refrigerator and sink. The bedroom has two queen size beds with modern and luxurious bedding with fluffy duvets. I loved the bed and had a hard time getting out of it.

What I loved about staying at the Embassy Suites was that they had a complimentary happy hour from 5pm – 7pm with some appetizers too. This cocktail reception was a great way to end after a long day of sight seeing and activities. The restaurant and lounge area is very large and has plenty of comfortable seating, a full bar and fireplace. The complimentary breakfast is also very nice and had plenty of options for all of us. It was a better breakfast buffet then other hotels I’ve stayed at that offer the complimentary breakfast.

Denver with Kids

When traveling to a city it always helps to have a local friend, they can give you recommendations and if it’s a good friend, they might even join you and take you on a little city tour!  My good friend and graphic designer, Aimee Giese of Greeblehaus lives in Denver and was the perfect person to show us around her town. I love having insider tips and hearing from a local what they love about their city. So what did we do?

Childrens Museum Denver Colorado Family Travel
Denver Children’s Museum

The Denver Children’s Museum is about a 10 minute drive from the Embassy Suites and very easy to get to. My kids love visiting Children’s museums and you know it’s a good museum when you can;t get your kids to leave. This museum was under construction when we visited but there was stil plenty to do!  Our kids loved the building the in the ball room and creating different mazes and tracks for the balls to go down. We also spent a lot of time in the bubble room, which is always a favorite! They also have a Backyard Room where kids can crawl through tunnels, dress up like squirrels or bunnies and play with animal hand puppets. And If animals are your thing you should also consider visiting the Denver Zoo, which is only about a 15 minute drive from downtown and has over 4,000 animals and is one of the best Zoos in the nation.

Union Station Denver Downtown

The Terminal bar Union Station DenverThe Kitchen Next Door Denver Union Station
Denver’s Union Station

The newly renovated Union Station just recently opened in July of 2014 and is one of the hot spots to check out in Denver. Not only does it serve as a major transportation hub but it is now a popular place to hang out, grab a drink and a bite to eat. In the Great Hall of Union Station is the The Terminal Bar where you can order and pick up a specialty drink or draft beer right from the window and then have a seat anywhere you’d like.  The Great Hall is a gorgeous open room with high ceilings and the center of it all. There are plenty of seating areas, couches and two shuffleboards.

We ate at The Kitchen Next Door for lunch. The Kitchen Next Door calls itself a community pub and specializes in fresh, organic farm-to-table food. It’s a casual atmosphere and a great place to grab a bite to eat and a drink. and they also have a great kids menu.

Rocket Fizz Denver Colorado

From Union Station you can start to walk down the 16th Street Mall and you will find even more dining and shopping options. A fun place to take the kids is Rocket Fizz, an old fashioned candy shop with an eclectic mix of candy from the past, flavored sodas and even some unique and hard to find candy from all around the world. We could not believe that there is bacon flavored soda with chocolate!

Kris Kringle Village Denver Colorado

Kris Kringle Village Denver Colorado Christmas Shopping

Kris Kringle Village Shopping Denver Colorado

ChristKindl Market

Right off of the 16th street mall was the ChristKindl Market, a small Christmas Village set up for the Holidays and only open for a few weeks during Christmas. The village has a European flair that includes a giant beer tent, which looked like Decemberfest inside!  You can shop the autheentic German beer steins, Polish pottery, glass ornaments, wooden toys and nesting dolls. You can also buy Austrian pretzels, Danish pastries and hot roasted nuts.  If you are visiting Denver when the ChristKindle Market is happening, it is a must see and do.

FREE 16th street MallRide

By this time if your kids are complaining about the walking, you can just jump on the free MallRide which runs the length of the 16th Street Mall and is free for anyone to ride! Which is nice if anyone from your group wants to go back to the hotel, and the Embassy Suites is just a block away. If you ride the 16th street MallRide train to the very last stop you will get off close to the Capital Building, from there you can continue to explore a little more of the city sights, political buildings and some unique sculptures along the way.

Denver Capitol Building

Denver DIY Walking Tour

I love to walk around cities and take pictures of the buildings, and and when you have a local leading you it’s even better!  My husband took my son back to the hotel but my daughter came along for this fun walk. We walked past the Capital building which has a distinctive gold dome roof and it looked gorgeous as the light on the city was changing from day to night. It was cold in Denver so the grass was not green and the trees were bare, but I actually loved the beauty of the bare trees up against these concrete buildings.

Denver City Buildings

Denver Government Building Travel

Downtown Denver Colorado Family Travel

Downtown Denver Chair and Horse Sculpture

Denver Art Museum Sculptures

Denver Art Museum

We stopped to look at the fun sculptures that are near the Denver Art Museum and take in the awe of the Art Museum building which is a sculpture itself.  We did not go inside the museum but if we had more time we would have liked to.  On our walk back to the 16th Street Mall and where we could jump back on the MallRide, the city was starting to get dark but had this illuminating glow from the street lamps and all the Christmas lights.

Denver Capital Building at Night

16th Street Mall Denver Colorado at Chirstmas Time

Cherry Creek Shopping

Anther place to mention is Cherry Creek which is Denver’s popular shopping destination. You can either go to the indoor Cherry Creek Shopping Center (which has a great indoor play space for kids) or walk Cherry Creek North. Cherry Creek North is outside and has blocks of unique boutiques and specialty stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table and Kate Spade. They also have plenty of restaurants to choose from and Syrup a popular place to grab some breakfast.

We were only in Denver for about 48 hours but we had so much fun. I highly recommend staying in Denver for a night or two before hitting the road to the mountains. This way you can get acclimated to the altitude a bit before going even higher.  You can also stock up on water and snacks or buy anything you might need before venturing up to the mountains. We really enjoyed staying at the Embassy Suites for it’s service and hospitality, large rooms and most of all it’s location.

Have you been to Denver?  What are some of your favorite things to do!?


Disclosure: I was given a two night stay to review this property. All my thoughts are my own.  I share this with because I love to travel and share tips on what to do with kids when traveling and the Embassy Suites is a great family friendly hotel.

 

 

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Two new strollers for air travel have just come out and they fit into the overhead compartments on airplanes. Compact with eye-catching streamlined designs, you will look forward to your next trip.  Introducing the Mountain Buggy Nano and BabyZen Yo Yo.

mountain-buggy-nano

Mountain Buggy Nano

Best known for all terrain and jogging strollers, Mountain Buggy has done a full 180 and presents us with the Nano, one of the best travel strollers out there. With uncompromising quality that Mountain Buggy strollers are known for, the Nano holds up to the rigors of air travel or any other kind of travel, with ease.

Nano has a two step system that collapses into a fold that fits into most standard overhead bins on airplanes. A nifty bag included with purchase fits over the stroller if you choose. Either way, use a shoulder carry strap or handle to tote it along. It weighs only 13 pounds and holds your child up to 44 pounds.

mountain-buggy-nano-lifestyle-airport

Traveling with a newborn? The Mountain Buggy Nano is travel system ready, accommodating most major car seat brands, with no additional adapter required!

The seat is roomy and full-sized with an adjustable leg rest and two-position reclining seat. The sun canopy, while not the most generous, has a flip out sun visor. A five-point padded safety harness keeps little travelers secured. A ventilation panel, when the seat is reclined, provides air circulation.

For parents, a single handle provides one-handed maneuverability and rear-wheel suspension eases over bumps. Petal-style linked parking brake is an easy one-step stop.

The Nano comes with red, black and blue canopies and retails for $199. So far consumer reviews are giving the Nano 4.5-star ratings for the obvious compact folded size and for the outstanding maneuverability.

BabyZen-YoYoBabyZen YoYo

Heard of BabyZen? It is a French company founded by a group of five doctors who were tired of bulky, ugly strollers. They now have a full-sized all-terrain stroller called the Zen and this one, the YoYo. The YoYo has two versions; a newborn to six months and a six-months plus.

The newborn version has a little bassinet-style flat lying seat that is parent-facing, while the six-months plus is a standard full-sized forward facing seat.

BabyZen-YoYo-lifestyle

YoYo holds your child up to 33 pounds and weighs just under 13 pounds. It folds down to 20.5 x 17 x 7 inches, fitting into most airline overhead cabin bins. I like the one-handed fold and carry strap for easy transport, especially if you’re carrying your baby on your other arm. The underseat basket is easily accessible front or back.

I like the bigger sun canopy with peek-a-boo window and the parking brake. The maneuverability push is fantastic with four-wheel suspension leveling out all those bumps and urban terrain. A travel bag is included with purchase.

Choose either a white or black frame, and then match that up with one of the fabrics in blue, grey, red, black or pink.

The BabyZen YoYo is quite a bit more than the Nano at $469. Reviewers have rating the YoYo so far at 4.5 stars for the compact easy fold and beautiful French design.

Which one of these strollers for air travel would you rather have?

Would you go for the slightly larger but less expensive Mountain Buggy Nano or the sleek French designed but more expensive BabyZen YoYo? Leave your comment below!

 

 

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If you are planning your next family vacation and want to shake things up a bit, have I got some exciting destinations to share with you! Expedia Viewfinder challenged me to put together a list of great family travel for 2015, including places families could go looking for adventure. This year, I want you to think outside the vacation box, step away from the typical resort pools and kids’ clubs and take your family vacation to the next level. These family vacations are not only are exciting, but they will inspire, educate and create memories to last a lifetime.

Vista Verde Steamboat Spring Colorado Family Adventure Travel 2015
1. First Class Dude Ranch

Vista Verde – Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Vista Verde Ranch is a luxury guest ranch located just north of Steamboat Springs, CO. Visiting a dude ranch has always been on my bucket list, and from the looks of it, Vista Verde is the place to go! Not only is the riding program top-notch with great horses, tons of instruction, and beautiful trails, but this ranch offers so much more. Other activities include mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, rock climbing, wild yoga, cooking classes, wine tasting and even a hands-on photography workshop. The Kids program is filled with a variety of activities, including a ropes course, scavenger hunts, panning for gold and painting on horses! They offer 7-night stays during the summer, and Vista Verde is an all inclusive ranch — all meals and activities are covered. It’s a good idea to book sooner than later, as they usually are fully booked for the summer.

Caves Branch Jungle Lodge Belize Family Travel Adventure 2015

2. Cave Tubing

Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge –  Belize

Enter the exciting world of rivers disappearing into the underworld as you float on inner tubes with only your headlamp to light your way. Sound exciting? It sure does to me — sign me up! Caves Branch Jungle Lodge in Belize is non-stop adventure, whether you are hiking through caves, rappelling down a 300-foot cliff, exploring the Mayan underground or cruising the seven miles of underground rivers. For 19 years, Ian Anderson has been creating wild adventures for families, they have stepped up their services to include first rate amenities that brings them up in standard, which includes five star tree houses, but they are not a resort and still remain a rustic jungle lodge. The youngest age for a cave expedition is seven years old, and many of the cave trips are for 10 years and older. Caves Branch is not for everyone, so be sure to check the website to make sure you and your children will be comfortable and your little ones can participate.

Check out Expedia’s viewfinder for more Belize photo inspiration

Western Expeditions Soutwest Sampler Rafting Tour Utah Family Adventure 2015

3. Family RaftingTrip

Southwest Sampler, Utah

Western River Expeditions provides stunning family rafting trips alongside the beautiful red rocks of Utah. Their Southwest Sampler is perfect for families seeking a variety of activities, which includes a two-night stay at the Gonzo Inn in Moab, Utah, a guided tour and hike of Arches National Park, lunch and a Hummer Sunset Safari. Then you’ll spend 2 days / 1 night drifting along the Colorado River, taking in the beauty of the beautiful rock formations and camping under the stars. This trip will allow you to bond as a family while giving you a sense of adventure, reflection and renewal. Children as young as 5 years old may go on these exciting rafting trips.

Tierra Magnifica Surf Camp Spanish Immersion Nosara Costa Rica Family Travel
4. Learn Spanish & Learn to Surf

Tierra Magnifica – Nosara, Costa Rica

Imagine spending your family vacation completely immersed in the culture and tradition of a Costa Rican seaside community, surrounded by abundant wildlife and one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Tierra Magnifica is a first-class private estate that sits high above the quiet beach town of Nosara on the pacific coast of Costa Rica and caters to large groups and family vacations.Tierra Magnifica offers one and two week summer Spanish Immersion Camps that combine 17 hours of Spanish instruction with a selection of activities, tours and family time that will create memories for a lifetime. Spots are limited for the Spanish Immersion Camp, and it fills up quickly, so be sure to make your reservation soon! They also offer a Family Adventure Surf Camp throughout the entire year.

Cinnamon Bay St John Camping Family Travel 2015 5. Camping on the beach

Cinnamon Bay – St. John, US Virgin Islands

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stranded on an island?  Okay, maybe not stranded, but if skipping the traditional hotel room and sleeping right on the beach sounds like fun to you, Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John is the place for you!  Cinnamon Bay offers families tents and small cottages right on the beach, just steps from the water.  You can either rent a tent, which has a solid floor and mosquito netting, or you can rent a small cottage that comes with four walls, four twin beds, electric lights and electric plugs. Both options come equipped with a picnic table, charcoal grill, propane gas stove and gas lantern, ice chest, water container, storage bin and cooking and eating utensils. There is a restaurant and general store, and cribs are available upon request. This will not only be a great family adventure, but for the budget-savvy. it’s a great way to get that beach front room — without a high price tag. For pricing, visit Cinnamon Bay rates. 

Anthonys Key Resort Roatan Honduras Family Adventure Travel

6.  Dolphin Scuba Summer Camp

Anthony’s Key Resort –  Roatan, Honduras

At Anthony’s Key Resort you’ll stay in over-the-water wooden bungalows and get up close and personal with dolphins during their Dolphn Scuba Summer Camp. Roatan is know for its first-class diving experiences and their dolphin programs for both adults and children. During the week, children ages 5 to 14 will interact with bottlenose dolphins through various encounters, feeding and training sessions. They’ll also be exposed to diving and snorkeling skills, depending on their age and skill level. Oceanside discussions, short classroom sessions, snorkeling trips and other outdoor activities will give your child a real appreciation for the ocean, marine life and the environment in general. You might not have thought of Honduras as a family vacation spot until now!

Rubys Inn Utah Camping in a Tipi Family Adventure 2015

7. Sleep in a Tipi

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Sure you can sleep at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel or at their sister property Ruby’s Inn, but why would you when you can sleep in an authentic Native American Tipi? That’s right. Ruby’s Inn also has RV and campgrounds where you can rent a tipi for the night. How cool is that? These are the closest accommodations to Bryce Canyon National Park, a must-see and must-do destination as one of Utah’s most beautiful red rock parks. The best way to see Bryce Canyon is either by horseback, where you’ll literally ride on the trails used by outlaw Butch Cassidy, or by the popular ATV tours. Next to Bryce Canyon is Zion National Park, where you can explore even more hiking trails, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Big Cedar Lodge Wilderness Resort Family Travel 2015
8. Luxury Wilderness Resort

Big Cedar Lodge – Ozark Mountains, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge is known as America’s premier wilderness resort and was founded by Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris. Big Cedar Lodge offers a wealth of outdoor adventure perfect for families. The resort provides an amazing lake-front setting, five swimming pools and land and water adventures ranging from bass fishing, water skiing and lake cruises to campfire wagon tours and horseback riding. The children’s adventure program is for ages 4 – 12, and kids receive a backpack filled with adventure tools and a hat for collecting pins. Adventure pins include BB gun safety and training, camping, tent making, fire building, rocks and fossils, canoeing and plant and animal identification. I know my kids would love to earn and collect all these pins.

The Springs Resort Arenal Costa Rica

9. Adventure in the Rainforest

The Springs – Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

The Springs is a luxury resort nestled in the middle of the rainforest in Costa Rica and has one of the best views of the Arenal Volcano. The Springs is a spectacular resort with large, lagoon-style pools, and a secluded section of hot springs and waterfalls called Perdido Springs (Lost Springs). These pools are surrounded by lush tropical plants, and in the middle of this hidden oasis is a small jungle bar and a water flume called the Monkey Slide. Sitting just below the resort, lagoon pools and springs is Club Rio, an outdoor center with river kayaking, river tubing, rock climbing and rappelling, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking nature tours and a Wildlife Preserve for rescued animals. Not far from the resort you can also visit the popular Arenal Hanging Bridges and zip line through the jungle at Sky Trek. We have actually been here, and our family had an absolute blast.

The white sand beach of Isla Carmen.10. Family Kayaking Trip

Baja California / Mexico

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures  features a family-friendly kayaking trip that is easily accessible from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Isla Espiritu Santo Kayak Sojourn takes you to the tranquil waters surrounding Isla Espirito Santo, a National Park and UNESCO Biosphere located just north of La Paz, Baja. The island features numerous deep coves, fantastic rock formations and beautiful white-sand beaches voted by Travel Magazine as some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit) Island is uninhabited, and you’ll spend days 5 days / 4 nights snorkeling with hundreds of tropical fish, sea lions, parrot fish, and sometimes even dolphins. Trips from mid-January to late March may be combined with their Pacific Coast whale camp to see grey whales and their calves!  What could be better than that!?

 


Where will you take your family in 2015?

 

Disclosure: This was a post written in partnership with Expedia, however, I personally selected all of these locations and trips. All my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own.

 

 


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Travel apps help with winter travel

Winter travel can mean timing delays and changes in your travel plans. Stay connected to keep up with airport delays and road detours. A little advance planning also means finding the best new game apps for kids with pent-up travel energy. Be sure to download these fabulous winter travel apps to keep everyone sane while traveling this winter.

travel apps

TripIt keeps everything organized

Airlines, hotels, and restaurants do a fabulous job sending email confirmations for trip reservations. The problem can be finding the exact confirmation for which you’re searching when you need it. TripIt takes the searching out of your travel plans. Each time you get a confirmation for a flight or hotel reservation, you forward it to your TripIt account, where the app creates a comprehensive travel itinerary. See all of your plans in a single place, no matter where or how you book your travel — plus the app is free for Android and iOS devices. You can add custom notes, packing lists, and other personal information, too.

travel apps

Be prepared for any sort of weather

Winter weather is a necessary hazard during winter travel, and an effective weather app can be crucial — especially if you’re traveling by car. Weathersphere is absolutely the only weather app you’ll ever need. The app collects massive amounts of data in real time and breaks it down into easy-to-understand updates, warnings, and alerts.

travel apps

Keep kids entertained when plans change

Even the most well-prepared parents can run into trouble when traveling. When your flight’s been delayed — for the second time — or your bag of kid distractions isn’t working, having a new kids’ app on your tablet or phone can mean the difference between calming your child or adding stress to everyone’s vacation. If you and your family celebrate Christmas, Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas is a fantastic, multi-layered app that can keep kids busy with stories, games, and coloring options. For an educational game that taps into a fairly common kid favorite — animals — try Toca Nature. Kids can design their own forests, add animals, and photograph their creations.

travel apps
The best apps for skiers

Winter travel gives you the chance to hit the ski slopes at your leisure, and you can use the best ski apps to make the most of your winter vacation. Start with Liftopia, a free app that gives you access to deal on ski lift tickets. The better deals you can find, the more resorts you can explore. Ski & Snow Report provides information about slope conditions at various resorts, including current information, live webcams, and trail maps. If you’re interesting in a little friendly competition with your friends — or just like checking your own progress — Ski Tracks is a must-have app. The GPS tracker can track your activity for around fourteen hours, providing data about your speed, altitude changes, and distance covered.

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The Voice - Season 7 Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Last week I got to represent Savvy Sassy Moms at a live recording of the hit show The Voice at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. My mother was visiting from Connecticut for the holidays and it was a perfect outing for us – music, stars, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the action, and we were even caught on camera at the beginning of the show, clapping and laughing and having the time of our lives. Not only did we have a wonderful time at The Voice, but we also got to drive there in style, thanks to Nissan’s little gift of a 2015 Versa Note for me to drive for the week.

THE CAR

As a sponsor of The Voice, Nissan wanted us to arrive in style. I told them I’d like to try the Versa Note because it’s the tiniest car they make, and I wondered what it would be like to zip around Los Angeles, a car-centric city, in such a small vehicle. The car they sent is a 2015 Versa Note SR in Metallic Peacock.

Look how cute:

2015 versa noteInside its kicky exterior, it’s a pretty basic car. The engine is loud and takes a few seconds to pick up speed. But it gets great gas mileage with a combined city/highway 35 miles per gallon. I’ve been driving it for 6 days all around my normal places and I’ve only used half a tank of gas. Despite the Versa Note’s small size, which allows me to squeeze into small parking spaces without fear of bumping other cars, it has a comfortable roomy interior. It seats five people without crowding, which I discovered when I drove my parents and my 2 kids out to dinner one night. On the other hand, the cargo space with all those people is limited. One load of groceries for my food-vacuum family required me to push the back seats down. It’s a perfect car for getting from point A to point B, and this actual car with all of its extras costs just over $19,000.

THE SHOW

The Voice - Season 7 Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC

The Versa Note got us from point A to point The Voice just fine thank you very much. I appreciated the modern sound system, which is a departure for me because I drive a 10-year-old sedan with a CD player that was broken long ago by my children and doesn’t have an iPhone hookup or Bluetooth connection. So in the Versa Note my mom and I got to play some tunes on the way to the show.

You can get free tickets to the Voice live shows just by going through NBC’s website. We were lucky to have VIP passes, so we were whisked directly to our seats – which were amazing – by friendly staffers. The whole process was fascinating. On the day we were present, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell taped a special performance of “Spark the Fire” complete with sparklers and torches and dancers and glow sticks for everyone in the audience to wave. They did three full performances of the song, then the producers edited a package together and played it during a later segment of the live show.

Let me tell you something. I am pretty sure that rocking out with my mom to a live Gwen Stefani performance wasn’t ever on my list of things to do, but I am definitely glad that it happened! We loved Stefani’s unique fashion choices – who else can pull off rock’n’roll pajamas and make that look cool?

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, then there was the whole episode of The Voice to experience. As audience members we had a very important job: applause. This was serious business. We had to stand up and applaud and cheer before every segment began, and stand during every performance. We were grateful for our awesome seats which were to Adam Levine’s left and level with the stage. The poor folks who stand down below stage level had to stand there for three hours! At least we got to sit down during commercial breaks and while the judges were talking with the contestants.

I was glad I picked something cute to wear, because as it turned out, our seats were right where the top 8 were headed at the end of their opening song, “Geronimo.” I couldn’t believe it when Craig and Damien danced and sang their way right up to where I was standing. That was when I wished I had taken the time to do my hair. We show up around 3:50 in the episode on the NBC website here.

on the voice

thevoice2The show was so much fun in person. The sound was excellent, all the performers sang their hearts out, and it was fun to watch the judges joke and goof around during breaks. Nick Jonas performed during this show and the audience went nuts. I hadn’t watched the Voice before but being there for this episode definitely made me invested in the outcome!

The Voice - Season 7Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC

After the show, a staffer drove us back to the parking garage in a 2015 Nissan Murano. That’s more the style of car for my family, but I liked both driving experiences. We stayed at Universal for dinner at City Walk and then finally went home to show the DVR’ed episode to my family. What a day! My mom has a great story about her trip to Los Angeles and I got my face on network television for a nanosecond. Not too shabby. (Also, now I really want a new car.)

Nissan gave me a car to drive for the week and 2 VIP passes to a taping of the Voice. All opinions are my own. Or my mom’s.

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6 Reasons to visit the Disneyland Resort During the Holidays #DisneyHolidays

It seems as though the Disneyland Resort and the holidays were a match made in mouse-shaped heaven, Disneyland is quite frankly the perfect locale for all things happy and festive. We were recently invited to enjoy the merry festivities, all opinions are own. After a day full of holiday Mickey heaven we have created a list of reasons why you should run and not just walk to the Disneyland Resort during the holidays.

The Castle during the holidays at Disneyland #DisneyHolidays
Just Got Merrier Decorations

I personally love over-the-top decorations around the holidays; the more the merrier I always say, but somehow the Disneyland Resort takes it just a step further and has the ability to fully immerse guests into a magical world of snow capped castles, wreath strewn lamp posts, gigantor Christmas trees and jingle belled adored horse drawn carriages down Main Street U.S.A. that makes Christmas even more merry. Both the Disneyland Resort and California Adventure are a gorgeous sight to behold during the holidays that are decked out to the fullest with decorations and festive décor everywhere.

Jingle Cruise Ride at Disneyland #DisneyHolidays

Holiday Rides

During the holidays at the Disneyland Resort a few of our favorite rides receive a festive holiday transformation. The Jungle Cruise becomes the “Jingle Cruise” with super fun surprises along the boat ride and can we talk about how funny that ride has become? I mean, I can never stop laughing at the boat drivers corny jokes. It’s a Small World Holiday is a popular attraction over the holidays and a must see. The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a complete Christmas transformation with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme (my 7 year old and 4 year old loved it!).

A Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland #DisneyHolidays
A Christmas Fantasy Parade

Twice a day and starting at It’s A Small World and ending in Town Square, the “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” marches through the resort and features everyone’s favorite characters while they don their most festive apparel. Disney Princesses (even Anna and Elsa!) join the parade along with prancing reindeer, marching toy soldiers and dancing gingerbread cookies. To round out the entertaining parade Santa Claus makes an appearance with his rosy cheeks and jolly laugh.

Santa Claus at Jingle Jangle Jamboree
Jingle Jangle Jamboree

Located in Frontierland in Big Thunder Ranch is the ultimate Christmas activity showdown known as “Jingle, Jangle, Jamboree”. There are games and activities, such as coloring (every kid that colors a Sheriff’s star can participate in the stage show), cookie decorating, reindeer games, yummy food and even a petting zoo. Guests can even visit Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus too.

Holiday Food at Disneyland #DisneyHolidays

Holiday Eats and Sweets

No piece written about the Disneyland Resort can complete without a mention of the food and sweet treats to be had at the park during the holidays. All along Main Street U.S.A. and Buena Vista Street in DCA you can find handmade sweets such as fudge, toffee, candy canes, caramel apples, candies, cookies and so much more. New to the Disneyland Resort are the Souvenier Soup Cups available at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, where guests can grab a insulated soup cup to go and enjoy it while watching the parade. The soup stays warm inside, but the cup is cool enough to carry!

World of Color - Winter Dreams #DisneyHolidays
World of Color – Winter Dreams

The World of Color show every night at Disney’s California Adventure is always a sight to behold; however the World of Color – Winter Dreams is a magical visual feast that you absolutely cannot miss. Hosted by the huggable Olaf, the show consists of holiday magic and sparkly colors with upbeat music that everyone will enjoy.

Log on now to book your Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure holiday visit today.

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