Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Into Thin Air

A couple of people (my mom) have asked me about the signficance of the mountain picture on the home page of this blog.  I took that picture three years ago in Alaska when Chris and I were clinging to the fuselage of a very small deHavilland Beaver piloted by a kid young enough to be my son who informed me mid-flight that he spends his winters as a surf-bum in Hawaii, laughing as he held our lives in his smooth, uncreased hands, guiding the tiny plane through enormous peaks to a glacier landing strip at Denali base camp.  Punk. 

Sorry.  My fear of flying momentarily distracted me from the point of the picture:  Mount McKinley.  Denali National Park.  Glacier landing at base camp. 

I know, I'm that cool.

The reason, though, that picture is on my blog wrap is very simple.  I like it.  Mountains make me happy.  I don't know if it's the raw beauty of the mountains.  Or the fresh cool air.  Or the inestimable vastness (a word?) of them.  Or maybe it's just that I'm closer to God when I'm on a mountain.  Whatever it is, mountains are my happy place. 

Mountain = Happy Sarah.

Every time I log onto my blog, I feel a twinge of glee seeing those mountains.

Which leads me to this...

Something kinda weirdish happened last week.

I had ten days off work and nothing to do.  Nuttin'.  Nada.  Zilch. 

Okay, not really.  I had TONS to do, what with school starting next week and all the back-to-school sales in progress, but nothing scheduled.  Nothing in writing.  Nothing real, on my iPhone calendar, because we all know by now if it's not on the iPhone calendar, it didn't really happen. 

So we did what any red-blooded American family with two children, 4 and 22-months, with ten days off the week before school starts when in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave in Texas would do:  we packed up the car, the kids, and the dog, and we went to Colorado.

And ya'll, it was FAB.  U.  LOUS.

Really.  Seriously.  Bestest.  Family.  Vacation.  Ever.  Evah.

Chris and I have had many a conversation in the last 48 hours about what made it so wonderful, and the only thing we can come up with is this:  we had no plan.  Me, Sarah Thomas, penultimate planner/packer/scheduler, actually drove my family, including dog, 1000 miles away from the safety and security of my iPhone calendar and washer/dryer with nothing more than a cooler full of juiceboxes and a bag of Twizzlers.  Don't judge.  It was a twelve-hour drive.

These were the type of trips Chris and I used to take B.C.  (Before Children).  We'd have a few days with nothing to do, and our choice of destination would be determined by closing our eyes, letting the atlas fall open to a page, and off we'd go.  Those times have been long gone (2.5 years to be exact) until last Saturday night, when we stocked the car DVD player with Curious George movies and hit the road.

Okay, I lie.  Our trip involved the tiniest bit of preplanning, such as:  making hotel reservations in Denver and Breckenridge that would accept dogs, choosing which 14er to climb, telling my mother all of my email and bank passwords (reference the 14er), and alerting my friend Jennifer Broome, who has an adventure travel blog and happens to live in Denver that we would be coming and did she want to climb a mountain with us.  Of course she did.

 Once those small details were arranged, off we went.

Well, almost.  Our trip was nearly thwarted by ShoeGate.  Pre-car-trip, post-bath, a particular little nekkid baby somehow made off with exactly one half of Chris' favorite (only) pair of sandals.  When confronted - Caroline, did you take Daddy's shoe? she replied, "Yessssssss".  What did you do with Daddy's shoe?  "I frow" (throw).  We turned the house upside down looking for the stinking shoe, while she danced around naked, chanting, "I FROW!  I FROW!  I FROW!"

Once Chris resigned himself to the fact that the shoe had in fact disappeared into thin air (get it?  Thin air?  Allusion to altitude?), we decide the trip must go on, and finally, off we went.

For those of you considering a road trip with small children, let me offer you an invaluable piece of advice:  travel at night.  Ohmagawsh, you MUST travel at night.  It is the only way to go.  We bathed them, stuck them in their PJs, strapped them in their carseats, pressed play on Curious George, and didn't hear from them again until Denver.  Not kidding.  Traveling at night totally rocks.  Chris took the first shift, me the second.  I got my praise on with three of Dr. Jack Graham's podcast sermons, watched the sun come up in my rearview mirror and poof!  Hello, Colorado.  Easy as pie.  (And just to assure you of this fact, we conducted a controlled experiment on our return by driving during the day, and I think I can say with certainty that we've all been irrevocably scarred, dog included).  Ergo, friends, the lesson to be learned here:  with small children, travel at night.

Anyway, Colorado.

Wow, Colorado...

It's so rare that I find myself without words to describe something, but the peace and tranquility I/we feel in nature - specifically, the mountains - is so, so hard to articulate. 

In the spirit of brevity, I'll hit the highlights.  With accompanying visual aids.  Because I'm nice like that.

Herd of elk on a playground (Evergreen)

Child reclined on a boulder in a 55 degree river, Bear Creek (Denver)

Family concert and movie (Jurassic Park) at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - which, by the way, is the coolest venue ever.  If you ever become a famous rock star, you simply MUST perform here.  This is me doing yoga at Red Rocks.  Because it was a cooler picture than the look on my child's face when she saw the velociraptor attack...

Baby hiker

25-mile bike ride from Breckenridge to Frisco.  Note the chariot containing 50 lbs of kid.  First half, downhill - fabulous.  Second half, uphill - Chris seemed to think it was hard ??  Whatever.  Wuss.

Picnic, Ten Mile Creek - Breckenridge

Really.  No caption needed.

My daughter feeding Swiper the Fox pretzels out of the window of our car.  Yes, biologists, I've had the people-food lecture (Kick), and yes, I agree he looks a bit rabid, but ya'll are missing the point here:  my daughter fed a wild fox.  Pretzels.

Snowball fight in mid-August

The von Crapps von Trapps twirling through wildflowers.

Little hiker crossing a mountain stream with Dad

A 14-mile hike with friends

Gettin' closer to the top...
We did it!  Summitting appropriately-named Mount Massive, second-highest mountain in Colorado (because, ahem, we already climbed the highest one four years ago - WORD)  with your husband, one of your dearest childhood friends, and your dog = Priceless

 Running into your brother-in-law and niece from Dallas on the summit of the second-highest mountain in Colorado.  (Okay, not entirely a coincidence.  We did know they were going to be there and were hoping to see them, but still.  It was cool to actually run into someone you know on the top of a mountain!) = Also Priceless

And, just in case it wasn't clear, we summitted, ya'll.  14,421 feet, 14 miles.  Bam!

Another piece of useful information.  If you ever want to know exactly how old your body is, make it climb a 14-mile hike at an altitude of 14,000 feet.  There will be NO QUESTION how old your feet are, your lungs and bones are, or how old you are going to be in exactly 61 days.  Just sayin'.

So, can you tell we had fun?  Can you tell I love Colorado?  Can you tell I didn't ever want to come back?  Can you tell it's my happy place?  Can you tell I resent being am back in 100+ degree heat and flat, humid Dallas?

Are you ready for me to stop rubbing it in?