Time has really been flying by these last few days. My time spent in Kansas flew by. I had such a great time seeing more relatives and having time to just read and relax. I also got to help celebrate Beth and Nadia’s birthdays that are this week. Nadia was so cute as she grabbed at her cake and got all messy as she enjoyed eating it. My grandma and I drove out to Colorado on Wednesday. My grandparents built a cabin in the early eighties on Mt. Princeton near Buena Vista. I have been coming out here since I was a baby and the place really is a second home to me. Actually, in many ways, it is the only place where I feel I truly belong.
Home has been an interesting concept that I have spent a lot of time thinking about in the last few years. I was born in Kansas, but moved away when I was six, so Kansas really is not home. But I never felt like I truly belonged in Indiana and could never see a future there. I am settled in Pandora, but I don’t know many people in the town and even though I have a job and a great bedroom, the place will never truly be home for me. I have spent more time at college than in Pandora. I love Harrisonburg and Virginia, but I do not see myself living there after college. So this only leaves Colorado.
Here, up high over 9,000 feet I feel a sense of security and comfort. No matter how much time I spend away, being back in the mountains feels so natural and truly at home. It is here that I spent so many summer weeks and loved being as a child. As an adult I still feel that same sort of magic about the place. The cabin is isolated so that life just seems to slow down and I am filled with peace that I have found no other place. It is here that I know and feel the presence of God. I hear the wind blow through the Aspen trees with hummingbirds buzzing around and all my walls and insecurities I built up over the years I was away seem to just fall down. Here, I have time to truly reflect on my life because everything seems just so far away and am able to be the person that I want.
And in this place, I do not only have time to be myself, I have adventure knocking at my door. Beyond reading, scrapbooking, and spending time with my family, there is so much to do! We always visit at least once the nearby ghost town of St. Elmo. This old mining village still has some of its original buildings and is alive with history. But my favorite part of the town is where some logs and boards have been placed on the ground to provide a place to feed chipmunks. The chipmunks here are so tame and come out everyday to eat sunflower seeds out of the hands of tourists. As an animal love, this never gets old! Friday morning my grandma and I drove out and I enjoyed having the chipmunks crawl all over me as I held out my hand to feed them.
This weekend my grandma and I had a great adventure as we went on a road trip to Denver. This was my first experience in Denver other than dropping people off at the airport. We met up with my friend Lauren in Littleton at a really great café. Now Lauren, who is from the Denver area, had been in my art history class in Belgium, and we had become good friends as we traveled on the different field trips together. I had not seen her since I left Europe, so I was so excited to catch up with her! We had a delightful lunch (fish tacos) and explored a little of Littleton before heading downtown Denver to the new History Colorado Museum. This museum opened a little over a month ago and has a lot of interactive displays to teach people about this great state. Not only did we learn a lot of history, Lauren and I also got to go ski jumping (virtually) and milk a face cow! I loved the visit so much and am looking forward to the time when I can go out and spend a longer amount of time with the beautiful Lauren!
After dropping Lauren back off at her apartment, Grandma and I drove to Arvada to visit her niece Jeannette. We had a lovely dinner then headed out to the suburb of Golden where we had a lovely walk by the river and ate some frozen yogurt. Jeannette then drove us up to the top of the mountain where you can see Denver in the far distance. Buffalo Bill is supposedly buried at the top of the mountain. Once again, the beauty of the mountains took my breath away. No matter how many times I come here, I am still blown away by the beauty. As amazing as some of the places I visited in Europe were, nothing compares to the Rocky Mountains!
After spending the night at Jeannette’s house, Grandma and I drove to Vail, Colorado. We bought our tickets and headed to the top of the mountain on a gondola ride. I had been up here with my dad a year and a half ago, but that time the mountain was full of snow and skiers. This time, the mountains were green (well as green as it gets during the heat and dry weather Colorado is getting) and full of hikers and bikers. The views from the top are outstanding and it was so fun to be able to see mountains in every direction you look! We ate lunch at the top before heading back down into town. Once back in town, we looked around at the farmer’s market and a couple of store before driving back down to Buena Vista to get some ice cream.
On our way back, about ten miles north of Leadville, we went past a forest fire! We could only see smoke and it was still a ways away from the road and any houses. That fire (the New Treasure fire) is one of twelve fires currently burning in the state! It is really scary watching the nightly news to hear of the different fires spreading across the state. The fire we saw has only burned 300 acres so far, but is only 5% contained. This is tiny compared to the High Park fire, which has spread across 82,000 acres! There is a fire ban in place in most areas around the state and even the village of Alpine, where my cabin is located, is taking every precaution against this very present danger! We really need to keep these fires and men and women fighting them in our thoughts and prayers. 11,000 have been evacuated throughout the state and if rain does not come soon, the situation will only get worse!
Grandma and I plan on driving back to Kansas tomorrow, then I will leave Friday to spend the weekend in St. Louis with my other Belgium roommate, Erica before going home on Sunday. I have loved this time with my grandma and honestly, I am not looking forward to heading home.