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Tuesday, November 02, 2010  

Rocky Mountain Huh

We have an established pattern with M. Edium's birthdays: odd-number years we throw a party, even-number years we take him on a trip. This year we kind of accidentally did both, but we'll come back to the party another day.

We had big plans for the trip. All of us loved the cabin we stayed in on Monte Sano over Huntsville, Alabama this summer. And M. Edium wanted to revisit the Space Center, where the Star Wars exhibit was scheduled to give way to a Narnia exhibit. We even planned to bring M. Edium's cousin Deniece, a Narnia fan of even longer standing than M. Edium. Never mind wondering what Narnia has to do with NASA, unless the exhibit includes a wardrobe that you can ride into orbit.

But the timing didn't work out with everyone and by the time we were ready to order the plane tickets they'd doubled in price in that maddening way that airline tickets have of doing. I said after the fact that we should have bought them anyway, and then if we couldn't go we could just scalp them. You never see scalpers working the gates at the airport terminals, and I think there's a wide-open market niche that I should probably look into someday when I have more time.

However, there were still cheap tickets to be had to Denver, so M. Edium went for that instead. And we were still staying in a mountain cabin -- just on one of many mountains instead of a single one. We planned to stay in Estes Park, a vacation community tucked halfway up the Front Range. If the Rockies were the Himalayas, Estes Park would be Everest Base Camp, if Everest Base Camp were more like a gentrified Wisconsin Dells or Branson and less like a tent city mined with human poo.

There was just one thing we forgot to take into account, on the warm September day when I was reserving the cabin. Even though I got it for an "off-season special rate" of "third night free," I somehow didn't take into account the fact that in late October, in northern Colorado, at an altitude of 7,500 feet, it gets cold.

Trash and I are not in the habit of checking luggage, and the only worse thing to deal with on a plane than a talkative seatmate is a winter coat, so we were pretty underpacked. We habitually went out in layered sweatshirts with the hoods up, if at all. Fortunately the cabin was equipped with a DVD player, board games you could borrow from the lodge, and a relentlessly hilarious dad for entertainment.

But we still wanted to get out. Trash and I hadn't been up to the top of Trail Ridge Road since the mid-nineties, and we wanted to check it out again, if only to show it to the kids. Unfortunately most of it was closed, so we never got above 9,000 feet. Fortunately the kids didn't know any better than to think you couldn't drive to the top of the Rockies during any time of year.

And I'm happy to say that even the whistling mountain wind and the blowing snow didn't prevent us from playing a couple of rounds of outdoor mini-golf. Or, I should say it didn't prevent the kids from playing. We adults weren't about to take our hands out of our pockets.

Six feet from the door of our cabin was a boulder the size of a squashed school bus. On the top of the boulder was a depression filled with a cup or two of water, a source of endless fascination for M. Edium, who called it his "pond." On our last morning it had frozen solid, even after the water had been contaminated with other things M. Edium had added, like dirt, pebbles, a stick, bits of pine cone, his leftover tomato soup, and a not inconsiderable amount of his own spit. So it was cold.

Being from Minnesota, we're not used to going on vacation in places that are colder than home. I'm not saying we won't do it again. But if we do, we'll try to do it on purpose.

posted by M. Giant 7:31 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

I just got back from a trip to visit a family member in Fort Collins- we went up to Estes Park for the day. So beautiful!

Highlight of the day was The Stanley Hotel- where Stephen King got his inspiration for The Shining. Cool!

By Anonymous nancy, at November 3, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

Your kids will thank you. My family went to the Y almost every summer in Estes and I have such good memories. My dad used to hand me a $20, I'd buy a day pass on the trolley and head into town.

By Anonymous Regan, at November 6, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

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