No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being. ~Ansel Adams

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. ~John Muir

We are now back from our summer vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado.   To recap:

We drove from St. Louis to Salina, KS the first evening (Thursday); then to Denver the next day.  We spent about 24 hours in Denver and enjoyed the City Park and the Science and Nature Museum.  I think our kids look like they are meant to be astronauts (I’m NOT encouraging this; Dan is however).

On Saturday afternoon, we drove in to Breckenridge.  Sunday, we met up with the Robson/Harlow clan and took the gondola up to the Fun Park at Peak 8.  The kids jumped and we all rode the Alpine Slide.  Grace was slightly terrified at the ski lift up to the slide.  Max was very upset that he didn’t get to go faster on the slide (he and Dan rode behind me and Grace; apparently our safe snail’s pace was maddening to Max, and probably to the 10 other riders who got jammed up behind me and Grace).  Max and Dan went for a slide redo and Grace and Emmy mined for gold.

On Monday, we took the kids fishing on a little lake on the side of the mountain.  They did great, loved their gear and loading up the bait.  It was a gorgeous spot with gorgeous sunshine and crisp air.  Grace, Max and I took a little hike while Dan took a conference call.  The hiking spot was great, we found a pretty little stream on our way back.

On Tuesday, we went for a bike ride around Dillon Lake near Frisco.  We got these awesome tag-a-longs for the kids.  They sat down in a seat but got to pedal and didn’t have to steer, which made balancing the whole thing easier for us.  Their trailor had saddle bags, so we took our lunch and had a picnic on one side of the lake.  I didn’t bring the camera, so sorry.  Only have iphone pics, which would need to be emailed to this computer and blah blah blah. 

On Wednesday, we drove up Boreas Pass.  It was a beautiful drive that emphasized the notion that perspective changes everything.  It is so fun to stop along the drive up the mountain to look back at where you’ve been.  It all looks so peaceful and small and quaint.  I wish I could remember that with all the challenges that come and feel like moutains! 

After we got back down from the Pass, we went on to Wolcott, Colorado for a Western Family Night.  I have been on a search for a family camp hoe-down for years, and we found it at the 4Eagle Ranch.  They had pony rides and pigs and the kids got to try to lasso a fake bull and a huge camp-style dinner.  And a huge thunderstorm that rolled in and ruined the s’more fest that was planned for later.  We did get to dance and sing a little too, before we left.  This place scratched my itch, but I am still on a quest since the rain dampened things a bit!

On Thursday we tooled around town in the morning, and Dan and Max played some putt-putt up on the mountain (Max got a hole-in-one).  We chilled out a bit at the condo and then went with the Robson’s up to something they called “chipmunk peak”.  This place was wild – chipmunks of all sizes were running around everywhere and would eat from the kids hands.  As long as the kids had sunflower seeds in their hands; these were picky chipmunks who turned their noses up to goldfish crackers.  Although they did like banana.   There was one out of place squirrel that, according to Dan, couldn’t get fed for the life of him.   It was a beautiful spot that allowed for just the kind of climbing and freedom that the kids needed (the kind that is just on the edge of someone-is-going-to-end-up-in-the-emergency-room).  Grace is a mountain goat, the way she climbs all over.   Max loved trailing behind Joe; he held a handful of seeds so tight that they were practically melted when he gave them to me.  

On Friday, the four of us rented a “run-about” at Lake Dillon.  It was fantastic.  Grace and I laughed almost the whole time: at the wind, at the pontooner we tried to race, at Dan slowly creeping up the speed thinking we wouldn’t notice the boat going as fast as possible, at my hat flying off and being glad it wasn’t a kid we had to circle back for, at how beautiful it all was.  Max was in his element as first mate.  He had a stick and a boat to drive with Dad and was at peace.  Once again, out on the water the perspective changes.  It gives me another realization that we are very small in this world and that beauty surrounds.  And there is nothing better than laughing with your child. 

We followed the boat ride with lunch in Frisco, at the Butterhorn, recommended by Jen and her mom.  It was all of my dreams for a cafe in one place — fresh baked, whole grain breads, fresh everything, open windows with mountain air blowing in and so many baked goods.  We had snickerdoodles that were so snickery and so doodly and so yummy.  I am planning to open this same store in downtown Kirkwood; not sure if the “Baked! High in the Rockies of Frisco, CO” slogan will translate well to Kirkwood, but we’ll figure something out. 

On Saturday, we did some more shopping in the beautiful Breckenridge and then headed back to the Butterhorn on our way out of town.  The repeat at the cafe was primarily at Max’s request, who needed more Snickerdoodle.  I was slightly paranoid that they wouldn’t have any cookies left.   After much consternation on my part, and Dan having the waitress trick me into thinking they were out, we got our cookies and enjoyed them, high in the mountains of Frisco.  Ummymmmymmmyummmmmumm. 

And then we drove across Kansas, stayed in an abominable Best Western in Salina, saw my mom at McDonald’s on the Kansas Toll road, cleaned up Max’s puke and rolled into St. Louis in time for Dan to play the last softball game of the season

We had a perfect vacation — we were in a lovely and cozy condo, with great friends nearby, in the mountains which is where my heart and soul lives, with outdoor fun to be had every hour and tremendous beauty surrounding.  But.  Yes, there is a little but.  We wish we had stayed for two weeks because it takes a few days to release the tension of routine and humidity and busy-ness and a long car trip.   It takes a few days for me to see my husband again as my funny, warm, available, easy-going love instead of as a hard working Dad.  It takes a few days for the kids to adjust to the pace of vacation.  For a while, I was on a search for the Grump Dump, the camp that takes in kids who are priveleged enough to be on vacation, but who are still grumpy.  We talked about the Chucker Camp, for kids who take things from their sibling and then chuck it back when asked to return it – this is the camp that teaches kids how to hand something to someone.  We stopped the car on the side of the road and instead of putting a kid out, Dan and I got out , I lectured about what a priveledge this vacation was when the kids complained that their room in the condo didn’t have a tv (Max actuallly cried and post lecture went on and on about how nice the shelf in his room was).

But, even though it was ONLY a week (I know, I’ll lecture myself in a minute), it was, in whole, fabulous, refreshing, relaxing, beautiful. And now back to our regular life, with a little more plotting and planning about how to set free those free little spirits in us that come to life by the mountain air.

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