It's that time of year again when the fall weather is just starting, and the leaves look like they might be thinking about changing colors. We had a pretty warm summer and that seemed to last through most of this month. The colors in town haven't really changed at all but up in the mountains some of the leaves have just started turning colors. We knew that we wouldn't really see the fall colors this weekend, but we decided to head back up to Mueller State Park anyways for our yearly fall hike with the kids. We did our usual easy hike/walk to our favorite lookout spot where we spread out our blanket and had a lunch of sandwiches, brie cheese, crackers, grapes, capri suns, and cookies. The weather couldn't have been better. It was warm enough to play with a slight breeze. Of course, the kids found great walking sticks along the way just like last year. We noticed that our teepee from last year was no longer there and so we decided to rebuild it but in a different location. The kids had fun exploring down from the lookout before grabbing big tree branches from the ground to help build the teepee. I'm not sure if the kids or Mike had more fun. Mike seemed to work the hardest on it. He found a dead tree and used that as a base for all the other branches. Mike is seriously the coolest dad ever. Peter and Emma played real life Minecraft and tried to mine for diamonds by hitting sticks against a big rock. Funny thing is Madeline went over and started copying them. It was too funny. It felt a little weird to do our annual hike without Andrew but we know that he is where he is supposed to be. We still miss him though.
After a great deal of time playing and just being in nature and away from life, we headed back to Woodland Park and over to the same spot we went last time to go shooting. The girls were especially excited this time, knowing a bit more how the rifles worked. We were a bit more prepared this time with headgear for everyone, so no one had to share. We even got pink ear protection for Madeline. The entire car ride over she kept telling us that she wanted to shoot because she is 3 years old. It was really kind of cute. As we were setting everything up, I got Madeline out of the car and gave her the pink headgear and we listened to the other shooters nearby. I'm not sure she liked that, or she was just plain tired from hiking, and asked to go back in the car. All three of the kids loved shooting today. The girls loaded their own guns today and only had some help when they couldn't quite cock the gun. It was pretty fun to see the girls have so much fun. Abby blew off the stem of a mini pumpkin and Emma actually got a bullseye. Peter, of course, had no problems hitting all the targets we set up. I was even able to shoot some targets. I'm so grateful Mike invested in some fun rifles and shotguns this summer so we could spend time together doing something pretty exhilarating.
We took the kids shooting up in Woodland Park this evening. We left later than we wanted and so we only had about an hour to shoot before the sun went down. We went to the Pikes Peak public range and found a great spot to set up. This was the first time the girls had been shooting and they were both really excited. I didn't grow up with guns so this would be my first-time shooting rifles and shotguns. Peter and Mike set everything up while the girls and I hung out in the car eating our fabulous Sonic burgers. Mike took each of the girls and taught them about the parts of the gun they were shooting and gave them some safety advice. Emma wasn't all that nervous and had Mike help her with the first shot. After that she did it on her own. She LOVED it. Emma mostly shot grandma Candace's 22 bolt action rifle. She only needed a little bit of help pulling back the bolt. After shooting that a bunch she tried the over under 410-22 rifle/shotgun. She was a bit shocked with the kick she got from the shotgun setting but she still loved it. Abby, on the other hand, was extremely nervous when Mike finally put the gun in her hand. She actually put the gun down and ran away until I convinced her to just try it once. At first Mike helped her hold the gun and shoot. Eventually she was comfortable enough to try it on her own. The thrill put a smile on her face, and she was no longer scared to hold the gun by herself.
As for Peter, well he was a pro at shooting. It was fun to watch him shoot the 12-gauge semi auto. Both Peter and Mike spent most of their turns shooting the semi auto gun. I tried both the 22-bolt action and the over under 410-22. I actually managed to shoot down a can and the cardboard wall with the shotgun setting. It was such a thrill. We all can't wait to go back and shoot together again. Next time I will try the 12-gauge semi auto!!