It seems like sometimes life is pretty mundane … and that’s okay because work is honorable even though not something to write about usually … and ordinary days are something to be thankful for because it sure beats being in the midst of a crisis!
Granted, our lives are seldom smooth-sailing – and there’s always something creeping up to remind me how very dependent I am on God’s provision and guidance …
But when something WONDERFUL happens, I want to remember to be ESPECIALLY THANKFUL. And after the “Bummer Summer” of last year, this year we got to go away for over a week as a family! Since we’ve lived in the Southern Midwest, we’ve always talked about going to Colorado because it is a somewhat accessible state by driving …. And FINALLY, we got to go! And Colorado did not disappoint.
If one is going to be at the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park (on the east-ish side of the Nat’l Park) seems to be THE place to go. It was recommended to us, but when I booked our time-share resort last November, everything in Estes Park for a 2-bedroom unit was already taken!! And guess what?! That worked out very much in our favor after all.
We stayed in a lovely little town on the west side of the National Park called Winter Park … and just beyond us were the small towns of Frasier, Grandby and Grand Lake. And all of these areas were open for summer tourism but definitely NOT crowded. Winter Park had access to some trails, and there were shops and a few restaurants (though we cooked and ate almost all our meals in our apartment), a McDonald’s and a Subway. PERFECT for us! 🙂
We are home-bodies and not great outdoors people (or I should say not ADVENTUROUS outdoors people, as we do like being outside – especially in Colorado where the weather is amazing this time of year!!!) – our idea of being “outside” is a comfortable, leisurely walk with access to ice cream or cold drinks … and 4 out of 5 of us are NOT morning people. We spent our mornings in Colorado kind of like this:
A short distance from our time share place, there was a lovely little trail that led to a park where Daniel, Drew, and Annie shot basketball, and Mimsy had a nice playground nearby, and there was a convenient bench for me – with an amazing view to remind me of how amazing God’s creation really is!! We walked to this park several times over the week.
We arrived in Colorado last Saturday. After resting on Sunday – and adjusting to the altitude (Mimsy got sick in the night, and I couldn’t get a deep breath – all our noses seemed dried out from the dry air), we were ready to do something on Monday.
We drove “down” to Denver and went to its aquarium. It was not the best one I’ve ever been to – and I wouldn’t even recommend it to anyone because there are so many other options – but live and learn. The exhibits were nice enough and we got to touch sting rays …
but otherwise, we were through the entire thing in a little over an hour. (not a great value for the money we paid to get in!!).
(jellyfish exhibit … ^^)
The guys had tickets to a Colorado Rockies ballgame that evening, so the girls and I dropped them off at Coors Field – and we met up with my step-brother and his daughter who live in Aurora, right outside of Denver for dinner and catching up on the last 20 years since I had last seen them (obviously, they’d not ever met my kids).
Tuesday we rested up and just stayed local around Winter Park.
Wednesday, we went to the National Park ($20 entrance fee – wow! but totally worth it!)
One thing I have to mention is how very, very thankful I am that our old van (the “Arkansas Chug-a-Bug”) was reliable and comfortable this entire trip!! We’ve broken down and had enough car troubles in the last 5 years that this is something I do not take for granted!
(^^ shout out to our old Chug-A-Bug that you can see here in this picture)
We had a picnic lunch at the trail head of the Timber Lake Trail – a 4.8 mile moderate hike to a lake – and then of course, 4.8 miles back. The boys and Mimsy made it almost to the lake, but a mudslide diverted them back a little short of hiking the entire trail: THIS GIRL did amazing despite a sudden rain shower that came up and some fairly steep climbs!! (So I’m told … )
Annie-Belle and I did not make it, unfortunately. A combination of dehydration, taking off too quickly after eating lunch, and altitude made Annie a little woozy, so we slowed our pace and enjoyed the scenery. We spent some time sitting under a giant coniferous tree, waiting out the rain showers that rose up … and in the end, Annie said she was glad she got to spend some time “just the two of us”.
Thursday and Friday, we just explored the nearby towns and took it easy.
Saturday, sadly, we had to pack up and leave. We met an old friend and some of her family, whom the Army stationed in Colorado Springs, on our way out of Denver for lunch – and it was wonderful to see familiar faces! Then we headed into the flatter and far less impressive state of Kansas. We stopped for the night in Dodge City.
(we did not stay at this hotel however^^)
Sunday morning, after having “TV church” with Dr. David Jeremiah, we went into Dodge City and explored Boot Hill.
It was actually more interesting that I had expected … and it was decorated nicely for the 4th of July holiday.
And then we drove the almost 450 miles home to NW Arkansas. It is wonderful to be home – although suddenly, it feels extremely HUMID here (compared to Colorado) …
My favorite picture from our trip expresses how I think we all felt about finally being FAR AWAY from Arkansas and enjoying some care-free down-time as a family: