Many of my columns are written while sitting out on our deck looking past manicured lawns to the wide, green expanse of the golf course. Today my laptop and I are on a deck but the view is very different. We are enjoying a week's vacation with a son and his family in the mountains of Colorado. Our stay is at the vacation home of a friend and his wife, a 4-story house perched half-way up the side of a mountain. I could spend the entire week just sitting here drinking in this view but I was not allowed to limit my experience in that way.
We hiked a trail that ran alongside a waterfall. My husband and I went as far as we could before realizing breathing was becoming much too difficult. Some flat rocks called out to us to sit a spell. We remained there while the rest of our group continued climbing to the top of the falls. Soon other hikers came along and it wasn't long before we felt we were the official photographers at the half-way point on the trail. People grabbed the chance to get a photo of their entire group with the raging waterfall in the background. We were happy to oblige knowing that often photo albums include very few pictures of the camera-carrier. Kids ask, "Was Dad with us?" We helped make sure these folks had pictures that included dad. In addition to taking pictures we enjoyed brief visits with each group. My husband can strike up a conversation with anyone. He found a tree that had been tapped for its sap and pointed it out to the kids going past.
A highlight for my husband during our trip was learning to fly-fish for rainbow trout in a lake fed by mountain streams. The water was so clear we could see the fish swimming past. That also became a frustration because a great big trout was cruising the area and my son, grandson and husband didn't want to quit fishing until they caught it. They caught a few fish but when we left the BIG ONE was still in the lake playing its game of teasing the folks with their almost invisible lines and colorful bobbers.
One day cousins from Denver drove out to join us for the day. We had not seen them for a decade and words flew fast as we tried to catch up with one another's lives. We brought along letters, pictures and newspaper clippings about the grandparents and other relatives we shared. The photos and information sparked sentences that began with "I remember when..."; "Did Grandma ever..." or "I didn't know...". We learned a lot from one another and I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their visit.
We took long drives through beautiful mountain passes and visited quaint shops in small western-inspired towns. The children were thrilled to ride in a gondola with us up the mountain above Breckenridge where ski lifts picked up passengers taking them further up the mountain to slide back down riding individual sleds. I would define it as skiing on your rump with no balancing required. We were high up and the air was on the chilly side there but when we heard it was over 100 degrees at home, we welcomed the low temperatures on behalf of everyone at home who wished they could have a little of it.
Our daughter, her husband and two adult offspring came from Kansas to join us for a day of hiking and exploring. The area behind the house was steep and rocky but it begged to be hiked. I was quite a way up the steep incline when I had a flash of wisdom. I should have taken one of the walking sticks from the storage area of the garage before attempting this climb. My son-in-law came to my rescue. With his help I managed to climb to the top to explore rocky caves, then descend in an upright position. Left alone I would have had to resort to sitting down and sliding down on my backside without the benefit of an Alpine Sled.
Back home I complete this column sitting on our deck on a hot and humid evening. I won't be able to stay out here for long. The green lawn we left a week ago has turned yellow and brittle. The grandchildren kept my flowers watered during our absence. They look fine but the weeds grew unmolested. We returned from our vacation with renewed energy, ready to resume our normal routines. Weeds beware. Your days are numbered.