I’ve reached the point in a vacation when I’ve lost the date. I only know the day of the week, and that with effort. We spend the late morning at Fun City, going down crazy slides and doing bumper…uh, everything. Julianna insists she wants to do bumper boats, but spends the entire ride shrieking because she’s getting wet.
In the afternoon I take Alex and his cousin on a real hike up the mountain behind the ranch. We cross a fallen barbed wire fence which is the border of the national park, and we climb the enormous boulders as far as we can. I’m so, so careful with them, knowing I’m in charge of more than my own child. We make it up and down without mishap…until my niece trips over the barbed wire fence fifty yards from the lodge, and slices her knee on a barb. I spend an hour in a panic I’m trying not to show to her, because she’s already being dramatic enough about it. I’m so freaked, I look up the DTaP schedule to set my mind at ease that she’s surely up to date on her tetanus shots. Meanwhile my cousins laugh and joke about how her mother did the same thing on a rusty auger when she was a teenager.
Today is our turn to cook our signature dish: Christian’s maternal grandmother’s red sauce and pasta for 36. We also throw in ice cream pie. It’s a quiet day, because most of the adults went rafting.
We end the day late at night on a blanket beneath a sky you can’t begin to imagine back home. Without light pollution, without humidity, the entire sky is a dazzling, spangled starscape. If I could spend a year here, I’d know all the constellations, and not just the few we can sort of see back home.
I’ve grown tired of doing my Jazzercise video, so the last two mornings I’ve tried to run. It’s hard work. I get to feeling faint. Our trip is half over, and although I’m looking forward to the DCT I didn’t think to bring for my poor chapped lips, and to my skin not being so dry, I’ll be very sorry to leave. It’s 106 degrees at home today, we hear, and instead of hibernating in an air-conditioned cave, we’re spending the day outside, wearing jeans and jackets.
But more than that, I’m different here. More at peace, less frenzied. Maybe it’s vacation, not this specific locale, but I don’t remember feeling this soul-full since the last time we vacationed in Colorado. The world fills up my soul here, saturating my senses: the quiet, the way the colors on the mountain shift as the light changes, that heavenly smell of cinnamon and butterscotch, or perhaps vanilla. The smell of ponderosa pine makes me long to plant a grove of them in my back yard. After our last trip to Colorado, I ordered aspen trees for our back yard. I lost one, but the other is now twelve feet tall. If we ever leave our house, that tree will have to come with me. It makes me so happy.
Every morning I have an encounter with a family of chipmunks who live, apparently, on the roof of my cabin. They’re cute.
Today most of the cousins are headed to Fat Tire for a tour, so we’re on our own. We pack up early and head to the south end of the national park. I had been thinking this park was not as big as it seemed, but by the time we reach Wild Basin I know better. It takes forty minutes to drive there, and when we arrive multiple rangers tell us a young black bear has been seen often lately. They think a ranger scared it off yesterday, but stay together and be careful.
We break out the backpack for the hike up to Copeland Falls, which turns out to be a true “easy” trail, not like the “easy” one to Alberta Falls at all. We take it at an amble. Julianna’s favorite part is the streams that cross the path. She huddles over the edge of the bridge and stares at the water intently. We have to physically remove her from every one. Nicholas and Alex go with me on a side trail up to a big rock formation, which we climb. Michael’s fine on Christian’s back, as long as I don’t get more than three feet away from them. When we reach the upper falls, we let him down, and he gets to walk most of the way back.
We stop at Church on the Rock on the road back north. Mental note: must look up retreats at this place. Michael falls to pieces as we leave, but we have no food to give him, having eaten our peaches up at the falls. Not a fun ride home.
We eat lunch, and while I put the kids down for nap, Christian takes Alex back to the park to get his junior ranger badge. Nicholas won’t go to sleep. Eventually he joins me outside, and while I soak in the quiet, he plays on a rock behind our cabin that looks like a turtle. We go downtown for a little souvenir shopping, and when we come back it’s family time for the evening. Tonight we’re taking pictures and celebrating my niece’s birthday. The last two cousins have arrived, and one of them brought a just-five-year-old. He and Nicholas are in love with each other immediately, and are glued to each other for the rest of the evening.
Photo credit: Tina Sbrigato
Today’s featured recipe: Ice Cream Pie. You can find that recipe by clicking here.