The past year has been brutal we have lived through two deaths in my family, one cross-country move, and a new job.  Our shoulders and hearts had been heavy with the burdens that everyone deals with at some point in their life.  Unknown to us at the time, what we needed was something to lighten the mood and lift the spirits.  Wouldn’t you know it, at just the right moment, thanks to a secret source, we came into a free week in a beautiful time share located in Beaver Creek Colorado.  Beaver Creek is a quiet ski community near Vail.  Neither Andrew or myself had been to Colorado for anything other than business. With the daunting idea of a fourteen hour drive to get there, we almost passed up the offer.  Thank God we didn’t.

So began our trip.  With our two little ones, we ventured out onto the highway and drove the first leg of our journey.  We decided to break it up into two days to make it a little easier.  I don’t know what it is that I find so beautiful about corn fields, but we sure did see a ton of them. Long story short, we drove forever, stayed in the middle of nowhere (Kansas), and finally arrived at the time share in Colorado the following day.  The highlight of the drive was the train park that we stayed at.Maya and Ethan were the only kids at the park.  The big Union Pacific engine came to a stop directly in front of the park, close enough to hit it with a rock, but on the other side of a chain link fence.  The engineer then proceeded to honk and wave at them as if he had pulled up and stopped just for them.

This could be anywhere between Arkansas and Colorado. Corn for miles and miles.

This could be anywhere between Arkansas and Colorado. Corn for miles and miles.

Aside from the pool, I think the kids liked the tub the best.

Nothing like a big old bath tub after a long drive.

Nothing like a big old bath tub after a long drive.

On the first day, we went white water rafting with Nova Guides.  I highly recommend them to anyone that is going to be out that way.  We toured the Upper Colorado River. It was more of a float with some bumpy waters, but for us it was perfect.  We didn’t even have to wear wet suits because there is almost no chance of ending up in the river unless you jump in.  Ethan couldn’t stand the idea of being that close to the water and not getting wet.  He also recognized that it was a moving river and he’s still learning to swim.  This is a tough problem when you are only four years old.  Thankfully, his Daddy came to the rescue with a happy medium, the dunk and pull.  Andrew lifted both kids separately, over the edge of the boat, dunked them in the river and then air lifted them back into the water.  The kids loved it.  Such a good dad!

I know what you are thinking. Where are the photo of the rafting trip?

Well, this is a funny side story.  The photos from this portion of the trip are on film.  Yes, I said film, the archaic medium used to preserve life events until the fairly recent invention of the digital camera.  Seeing as we were to be of the water and I don’t have a fancy waterproof camera, I purchased four waterproof disposables and each of us had our own.  The kids loved this.  They are still not sure how come they can’t see the pictures yet, but enjoyed taking them none the less.  I will try and post them when they come back from the developer. Did you know that Walmart still develops film on-site in some locations?

Getting back on track.

Again, calling on Nova guides we headed out for more adventures.  This time however, we rented ATVs.  These are some serious off-road quads.  They are designed for touring and rugged trails, not so much driving fast and making fast turns. They were perfect for us seeing as we had very little experience in this department.

The kids both had some reservations at first but as soon as they started getting the gear on they were giggling and ready to go.

For the first part leg of the ride, we didn’t know that the kids were allowed to ride in front of us, so they rode behind us in the “King Seat.”  Once they moved to the front seat and could see better, they had much more fun.

We rode almost to the top of Resolution Mountain (11,604 ft.) with a guide.  The views are breath-taking to put it mildly. From where we were, we could look across the valley and see Mt. Elbert, the tallest peak in the Colorado Rockies and Mt. Massive ( the largest single rock in Rockies).

Resolution Trail, overlooking White River National Park, Colorado

Resolution Trail, overlooking White River National Park, Colorado

That's me!  Oh yeah, Mt. Elbert is the pointy mountain in the background.

That’s me! Oh yeah, Mt. Elbert is the pointy mountain in the background.

We had so much fun on this adventure, that we booked for the following day as well.  On the second tour, we went up the East Fork.  From this side of the valley, we could look down and see the remains of a military training site that was used in World War I.  All that remains are some building foundations and some of the shooting range structures.  We learned about the military history of the valley and about Aspen trees.

On this day, the kids were most interested in the puddles that had been created by the rains the previous night.  Did I mention it’s monsoon season in Colorado. Since it was just us and an older couple, the tour guide let us play around a bit.  He even took pictures for us.

This was a series of three or four very large puddles.  The deepest, came to the top of the foot rest on the machines. Andrew and Ethan hit the puddles hard and fast, resulting in giant splashes, wet legs, and big smiles.  The splashing puddle of Andrew and Ethan is the only one where you can actually see Ethan.  In all the others, the mud is too high and thick to see him.  Maya and I did not go through quite as fast, but we still made a huge splash. We put our feet up on the front of the machine so we would not get wet. Both kids loved this and thought it was hilarious to be playing in the mud.

It rained several of the evenings we were there.  Just after three thirty, four o’clockish, the clouds would roll in and the thunder and lightening would start.  We had to get out of the pool two of the nights due to the lightening. Since they did not have air conditioners (Who needs it up there?) we had the windows open for most of the day.  When the rain would start we would just sit and listen to the big drops fall to the ground as the thunder rolled through echoing off the the mountains. The air was so fresh and clean.

Our patio in the rain.

Our patio in the rain.

Looking out the back door during the rain.

Looking out the back door during the rain.

On the last night, it stayed cool and clear for us.  We walked over to the base of the ski area and ate on the patio of an elegant restaurant.  Then headed to the bonfire area and made s’mores.  Maya and Ethan made friends and spent the evening running and playing in the mountain air.

We made the drive home all in one day.  I was so impressed with the kids.  The played their Leapsters and watched movies.  I don’t think they fought at all.  It poured rain and flashed lightening relentlessly from Hayes, Kansas all the way through to Arkansas.  In total, Andrew drove about nine of the fourteen hours is crazy storms.  At one point, Maya was counting lightening strikes.  After about 10 minutes, she lost count at one-hundred and twenty.  Andrew and I dialed into Pandora and sung along with the oldies for most of the drive.

When all was said and done, we spent had spent days driving, laughing, singing, swimming, and adventuring together.  This turned out to be just what we needed to regain perspective and prepare us for whatever comes next.  I think we made memories that none of us will soon forget.

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