With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On Top of the World

Another action-packed weekend left its mark on our memories and energy stores.  Friday morning saw us rise and breakfast at 3:30 am and then speed up I-70 to the Fiddlers Gulch trailhead at Greys Peak.  Starting our high-elevation hike at 5:15 allowed us to see a glorious sunrise over the valley and the rounded dome of our goal in front of us. All was well until about two hours in (on a 7+ hour journey), when Daniel decided that hiking high mountains didn't suit him.  I applied my brand of encouragement, which failed miserably and was rejected by both child and father, so Rob took over the care of Daniel while I trailed our older two mountain goats.

By some miracle of patience and perseverance Rob was able to shepherd Daniel up both Greys and Torreys - two peaks over 14,000 feet high with a saddle between them. Another miracle that I was able to follow William and Aden up Torreys without experiencing a heart attack or a precipitous fall. The scenery was a gorgeous, God-given blessing of still snow-capped peaks, mountain lakes, green slopes and far-reaching vistas. I told the big kids that I get a "Rocky Mountain high" from being up in those mountains, which caused William's brow to furrow as he sniffed me for marijuana fumes.

No semi-illegal substances on that trip, only trail mix and lots of water, but Rob and I got a noseful of Mary Jane at our concert on Sunday night. We went to Fiddlers Green for the first time - a beautiful open-air concert venue that lives only five minutes from our home. For some reason we've never been to a concert there in all of our twelve years as residents; we won't miss out on the opportunity again. Sitting on the high, grassy slopes of the General Admission section we could see layers upon layers of blue-grey mountains behind the stage, and a setting sun dropped below the building just as Panic! at the Disco played "Hallelujah."  It was a stunning end to a busy weekend, glorying in the mountains and open air.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ramblin' On

I'm writing in the kitchen this morning, grateful that our house fan dropped the indoor temperature from 80 degrees to 72.  Another scorcher simmers outside and I'm carefully calculating how long I should leave windows open before trapping the cooler air and crossing my fingers that it lasts until lunch. It's a summer routine that never fails to challenge; if life is in the details then for me, in summer, it's all about keeping the house cool.

Another week begins, with Daniel at Nature Camp with friends each morning and doctors' visits filling the calendar each afternoon. Aden and William are home after traveling last week for a mission trip and a water polo camp, respectively. Aden arrived at church last night around 5pm, after their caravan got stuck in weekend traffic in the mountains. The church bus had broken down and so the 16 people were crammed into minivan rentals.  She had a good trip working hard at a warehouse/thrift store and food pantry, but was glad to be in her own bed last night.

I retrieved William in Los Angeles last Thursday, and spent a blissful solo night courtesy of Karen at her chalet in San Pedro. Then a day at Pepperdine watching water polo and walking the hills of the campus before taking William and his friend home via Santa Monica beach and LAX. Watching the camp counselors at work, I shook my head in disbelief that my son will one day have the same tremendously broad shoulders and defined musculature as these athletes.

The kids' adventures are such gifts, and we're lucky to have opportunities for their travel and growth in different areas. I'm glad they're still young, and want to come back to us after five days or a week. In a few years we will be on college campuses for Aden, and they will pull away for longer and longer periods.

So I'll hold on to this week of kids at home, opening and shutting windows like a madwoman and sneaking the first season episodes of Outlander whenever I can. Rob got me hooked on the show, and now I can only think that our next travel adventure might be Scotland.  If we go, we'll take the kids, as I'm not eager to plan more time apart .

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July post-Fourth

I just rescued Blackjack from the top of our refrigerator, where he inexplicably jumped to escape the torments of his "big brother" Rex, who has been chasing him around the house at top speed. They skewed our throw rugs, tore a few more holes in the leather couch, spouted a spray of kitty litter across the office, and finally - the refrigerator.  I cannot decide if they're inspiration or interruption.

Our reading instructor says "read and write each day" to which I respond wittily, "Argggh!"  The reading is no problem as I can do that anywhere - in waiting rooms for the ortho, the eye doctor, the pediatrician, the dentist. Three kids times four appointments equals dozens of hours spent in waiting rooms or waiting in the checkup rooms - lots of time to finish books and magazines.

Writing is more of an obstacle for me, hard to accomplish with muzak in the background and siblings clamoring at my knee for promises of "a treat" or a ride somewhere with someone. On the days I don't exercise early I come to my computer with coffee and the hope of some creative spark, which may or may not be generated in the allotted hour.

Aden and William have their final swim meet on Saturday (Daniel is done) and the summer team party that evening. Both kiddos leave Sunday morning, flying out from DIA to a mission trip and water polo camp, respectively. The counter is papered in swimming timelines and to-dos, packing lists and reminder stickies. My stomach flips each time I see flight info that does not include me.

Don't tell the kids, but this last month of summer will zip by at hyper-speed. Our early start date of August 11 means that my inbox is already full of check-in information and school forms. Hope everyone had a good Fourth and best wishes for July!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Devil's Head

Saturday's early morning rain did us a solid by delaying our fellow hikers and providing cloud cover for our hike up Devil's Head. Without a swim meet or baseball game to kick-start an early morning, the kids slept in, ate a big breakfast, and dallied while Rob and I debated attempting a new hike in the wet. Finally, full of bacon, pancakes and optimism, we rallied with multiple water bottles and raincoats.

After an hour's drive - much of it on bumpy, windy dirt roads - we arrived at Devil's Head. An empty overflow lot was a good sign and though the guidebook warned us to be there by 8am, it looked like our 11:11 arrival time would work for the cool and misty day.  William took off, free running off massive grey boulders and large, initialed, aspen trees. Aden followed close behind, while Rob and I struck our usual tenuous balance of keeping the big kids in sight while staying back with Daniel in order to encourage his faltering steps. Daniel is usually too focused on "Are we there yet?" and "Where can we go for lunch?" to enjoy a climb.

We passed trees swizzled on the ground in mad disarray, surprised to read that they had been uprooted and tossed by a tornado last summer.  Casting wary eyes on the grey sky we hustled forward. The trail runs just 1.4 miles and provides startling peeks out over the plains and foothills in all directions. As a training hike for the 14'er we plan for later this summer it wasn't quite strenuous enough, but the wildflowers, aspen and evergreen forests made us forget any other ambition.

The Devil's Head Lookout Station sits on the top of a massive rock formation at trail's end. Bill Ellis, the lookout, scans Pike National Forest daily for fires and allows five hikers at a time into his office. Rob and Daniel went in to meet Bill and get his card; Aden and I snapped selfies while ribbons of grey cloud unspooled behind us. Occasional breaks in the sky revealed windows of blue and glorious panoramas of Colorado's topography.

A fabulous way to spend the first day of the holiday weekend - a reminder that family hiking is worth the preparation and occasional complaint. Happy Fourth to all!