For a week every summer for the last 10 years or so, we have gone to a little town in Colorado called Cuchara. We have friends who own a cabin up there, and they rent it out through an agent every summer.
David and I originally went by ourselves, while the kids stayed with grandparents for the week. A few years ago, we started taking them with us. So it is now a family vacation, which has turned out much nicer than I thought it would. The girls are 15 and almost 13 now, and while you might think that would be a pain, they are so sweet and helpful and grateful. They know that a perfect vacation for me is a big bag of books and a big bag of movies, and they respect that I want – no, need – that time to indulge in my favorite pastimes. I usually average 5 or 6 books during this week and 4 or 5 movies, at least.
Here are some stories and thoughts on this year’s trip.
Because our friends own the cabin, it feels almost like we are staying with family. It’s a very comfortable cabin with a full kitchen and washer and dryer. At about 10,000 feet up, it perches on the side of a mountain, and while there are other cabins around, this one is situated as to feel very secluded. You walk out the door to the deck, and the mountain is right there. There is a game trail that wanders beside the deck and up the mountain, and it is common to see deer walk right past the window and up the mountain. Because it is so high up, it is very cool there, even when it is fairly warm down in the town below.
As a point of local color, there is talk that the cabin is haunted. Yes, really. Here’s the thing: there is a bedroom and a bathroom downstairs in a basement. Because it is almost underground, there are no windows and it is much cooler down there. So… it can be argued that it is cold and dark and creepy down there. It also creaks a lot. The rental agent says his cleaning people won’t go down there because they feel a “presence”. That’s a lot of hogwash. But I will admit to jumping one night when I heard someone in the kitchen, and everybody was in bed, and then the next day a door slammed by itself. Both things were a result of wind, but I thought it was funny.
The chipmunks around the cabin are very tame and used to scavenging for food around the cabin. This year, there were several that quickly discovered we were a soft touch for food. They would come up onto the deck and prowl around our feet for the bites we would drop. A couple of them were bold enough to eat right out of David’s hand! When we were not out there, they would come up to the sliding glass door, stand up on their hind legs, put their little feet against the glass and stare in, looking for their meal ticket! A couple of years ago, one of them climbed up onto Leah’s foot, ate the potato chip she’d put there, then licked the salt off of her foot! Mary did a funny imitation of the chipmunks standing up against the door: “Helloooo! Where’s my foooooood?! Am I not cute enough for you any more?!” Then she made a “cute” face by putting her fingers in her dimples and smiling manically.
We did not see as many deer this year as we usually do, but we did see a few. We saw a mama deer nursing her fawn, and that was really cool. The funniest thing was when one day we had gone down into the little town about 30 minutes away to download emails and so forth. This big ol’ buck with a big rack of antlers just came sauntering down the street on the sidewalk in the middle of town! He stopped right next to our van and peed, then went strolling along like a regular pedestrian.
One of my favorite things about Colorado is the aspen trees. They are so pretty! Their leaves are almost circular, and they attach to their limbs in a way that lets them flutter freely. When the sun shines on them and the wind blows, they reflect the light so that they look like they are twinkling. I can sit for long periods of time just watching them.
I’ve discovered that the Denton library is a wonderful source of DVD’s, including movies and TV series. One of the things that has been fun about bringing the kids with us on these trips is introducing them to some of the great old (and not-so-old) movies and TV series. Last year I brought a bunch of the old Dick Van Dyke shows, and the girls fell in love with them. When we got home I was able to find the show on cable, and I record them for us to watch at home. This year I brought a disc of Get Smart episodes. They are so corny and awful and hilarious, and the girls begged for more. I also brought “Sabrina” (the remake with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormand), and we really enjoyed watching that, too. The girls are old enough to “get” stuff like that, and it’s fun for me to watch them watching it. In the older movie category, we saw “Mr. Roberts” with Henry Fonda and James Cagney. I love bringing these great stories to new eyes.
Of course, there were also Star Trek movies. Can’t leave that out. This year was “Nemesis” and “Insurrection”. Man, I love Patrick Stewart.
I typically hit the library a few days before we go and stock up on books. This year, I indulged myself by actually buying books for my Kindle. This saved a lot of packing space, as I usually bring an actual suitcase of books.
This year’s selections:
Blindman’s Bluff by Faye Kellerman
Night Shadow by Nora Roberts
Night Shield by Nora Roberts
XO by Jeffery Deaver
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
The Next Always by Nora Roberts
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is an audible book I listened to when it was my turn to drive)
Still in line to read (bought for the trip but didn’t get to):
The Drop by Michael Connelly
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts (do you see a trend here?)
Hangman by Faye Kellerman
Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs by Blaize Clement
I also have not finished Eat, Pray, Love yet.
I realize these are not exactly ultra erudite (well, Eat, Pray, Love kind of is, but it’s funny, too). I started to say, “… but this was for my vacation,” but the truth is, this is my usual fodder. Hate to disillusion you. Hey, at least it wasn’t Fifty Shades of Gray.
I’ve already talked about the kids some, but I wanted to tell about how wonderful they are to travel with. They’ve always been good travelers – well-behaved, sweet-natured, and easy-going. It makes me really proud that we can get through an entire 12-hour day of driving (each way) without any major scuffles. I’ve tried to approach the days of driving as part of the vacation – it’s two whole days (one day there, one day back), and it’s a shame to spend it just rush, rush, rushing to get where we’re going. Over the years, they’ve “collected” license plates, followed maps of our progress, counted yellow cars (that’s something they do at home, too – it’s a long story…). This year they both have electronic devices to entertain them, as well as old-fashioned books. On the drive home, Leah was sitting in the back of the van and Mary was in the middle section. Leah tore a page out of a notebook, wrote a note on it, folded it up and passed it to Mary to pass up to me in the front seat. On the front it said, “PASS TO MOM!” Inside it said: “Guess what? I love you a lot and you are really awesome! (That’s what) –Leah”
Leah is turning into quite a good photographer, too, and she has been chronicling our last few trips. Several times, she and Mary huddled on the couch to look at her pictures, heads together and giggling. They are sisters, and they fight like sisters do, but they are also very sweet to each other, and I love to watch them when they are like this.
It is a cool and beautiful vacation spot, and it is a lovely time of renewal for all of us. Too soon it is time to come home and jump back into the routine of work and, in a few days, school. But it is always good to get back to our own beds and our own routines. It is a blessing to go, and it is a blessing to come home. There is an old saying (the Web is ambiguous about who said it first): “Wherever you go, there you are.” Wherever we go as a family, we’re stuck with each other. So it’s lovely that we enjoy our time together wherever we are.