6 am and I am awake. That is just so odd.
The idea was to say we were leaving at 8 am and to plan on actually leaving at 8:30 am. This is more like it. I can actually function within these reasonable parameters.
The Menke’s beat the Koo’s at camp take-down by about 15 minutes. We are getting our sea legs. Jan and Wes seemed to be a little thrown off by our efficiency and sense of purpose. They are frustrated with the girls and — get this — their messy van! Jan has a messy van this morning! I have never seen anything so soothing to my shattered confidence and this makes me happy. The forecast for Boulder is 96 degrees. And this does not make me happy.
The road out of Arapahoe National Forest (I, of course, thought we were in Roosevelt National Forest. Where we would have been if we had taken the correct turns, I think.) — County 14 — was far prettier than the area we camped in. The many campgrounds that we had hoped to stay in were gorgeous, right on the river we hiked the day before. And full. This was a Sunday morning and we saw many waiting to get spots even at the end of the weekend. So maybe those wrong non-turns actually saved us some time finding a site.
We lost the Koo’s somewhere on the way back South. We apparently… missed a turn.
I’m not making this up.
We stopped for gas at a 7-11 on I-25 north of Boulder. I mention this only because Dave surprised me with a Mountain Dew Slurpee! Is that love, or what? Maybe he was making up for my grave disappointment and loud protestations at not getting to at least drive through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park.
I mean really.
Why even go through the last 24 hours if not to see what we came for? I ask you this. I’m asking again.
Oh! A slurpee! Mountain Dew!
…and it was never mentioned again. Perhaps I need to stop calling Dave clueless.
The plan was to meet at Chautauqua (that would be an AWSOME Words With Friends word) Park in Boulder for lunch and a hike up to the Flat Irons. Jan apparently has fond memories of this activity.
Wow! I did not know that Boulder was such a city! Very cute, but very, very busy.
And HOT. Ninety five degrees when we arrived at the park. Parking was a challenge. I would compare it to finding a spot by Lake Calhoun on a sunny Saturday afternoon during the Uptown Art Fair for a Surburban and a pop-up trailer. We got extremely lucky and found two spots not too far away from each other and did an amazing rendition of a pit crew, backing the camper into the first spot, unhitching and getting the car into the other spot, in record time, all while about 7 cars backed up waiting for us and a baby screamed its fool head off across the road while the hapless parents tried to take pictures of it on a fake fur carpet in mid-90 degree heat with netting stuck on to the tree behind it. Seriously, what are people thinking?
The hike was quickly vetoed by the masses.
We ate some lunch from the cooler. Morgan’s favorite thing to do!! And then headed for the campus.
Very pretty. But hard to get excited about much. Except maybe this fountain:
It was too damn hot.
Next, we hit Pearl Street — thee place to be — and promptly lost all steam. I say this with some authority because even Morgan lost her will to shop. And this is saying something. She hit the Prana store on the corner and after that I heard nothing more from her.
Charlie continued to hang from my arms, leaning on me, touching my hair, petting me like a dog and saying things like, “Why don’t they have an Airsoft store? Are you SURE they don’t have an Airsoft store? This is so stupid. When are we leaving.”
Do questions like that need answers? I say no.
Here’s what we DID do on Pearl Street: ATE SHAVED ICE. Many, many, many of them. It’s my best memory of Boulder: Mango, Cherry, Lemonade, Lime, and more. Dave, who never eats anything frivolous, had three. I figure, if he can count how many tacos I eat, I can count how many shaved ices he ate.
After leaving Pearl Street, Dave dropped Morgan and I off at a store to buy a CU t-shirt while he & Charlie picked up the trailer and coolers that we simply left out in the (96 degree) shade to try to preserve our food. (rather than leaving them in an even hotter car, that is.)
He picked us up and we headed out of town with me at the wheel. Koo’s were planning to drive by Jan’s old house and meet up with us on the road.
As we left town, the thermometer on the card read 97. When I was loudly bemoaning this fact for about the sixth time that day, Dave (or Charlie, or whoever it was who had the nerve to contradict me) said, “But it’s a dry heat.” I said, “WHATever! It’s MF HOT!” Only, I must have said the unabbreviated version because Charlie said “Geez Mom, you are really talking bad this trip.” Dave quickly concurred. Morgan just laughed because I think she secretly thinks it’s hilarious.
So now, I also vow to clean up my mouth.
But just to let you know how hot I, personally, am as I sit in the blaring sun of the driver’s seat: I have my hair in a high ponytail with an elastic headband holding my bangs off my foreheadscape. A here-to-never-been-done-before-in-46-years look that was captured on camera and I may even share if I get real brave. We’ll see. Even I have my limits.
Here’s the good news though: over the pass SW of Denver on 285, the temperature dropped all the way down to 70 and pretty much stayed there for the remainder of the way.
Since the plan had been modified the day before, we were no longer barreling for the Dunes. Instead we were looking for a site outside of Buena Vista or therebouts. Dave was next to me, researching on his iPad, using a combination of its 3G AT&T connection, and my Verizon MiFi wireless hotspot, switching between the two when one network got bad.
Now, I have not talked too much about the whole electronica thing, because I find the whole situation worse than embarrassing. –Just know that we were wired.
Dave being Dave, however, does not really give much time or attention to the details of internet connectivity. He just wants it to work. (That’s a nice way of saying he just doesn’t get it.)
So, when he is researching campsites on his iPad in the hinterlands of Colorado, in deeply forested, low mountainous valleys, and starts jabbing at his screen in a violent fashion, I can pretty much tell you what’s coming:
“…grumble, grumble… this piece of *%$#@! sh*t..” (who’s got the potty mouth now, Dave?)
To which I will usually reply something like, “Dave, we are in a deep valley, I’m sure service is bad here.” And he will say,
“BUT I’VE GOT FIVE BARS!”
And I then try to explain that he shows 5 bars because he is right next to the wireless hotspot and the 5 bars represent only that–proximity to the wireless device, like the router at home. I go on to (patiently) explain that he needs to look at the MiFi to see what its signal strength is, because it likely has no signal at all.
“BUT I HAVE FIVE BARS!”
Oh never mind.
I have a couple things to note from today:
- Igloo coolers are dumb. They have pointy uninsulated tops that you can’t stack things on top of. You can’t open them in a tight spot. They don’t keep things cold. I do not like Igloo coolers.
- Dave is a hypocritical passenger. Need I expand on that? I think not.
[non-journal edit: yes. you do need to expand on that Jennie, as I have no idea what that means. I presume to guess that it means he yells at me when I’m driving for doing things he does all the time. But that is a guess and only based on day to day life and not actual memory. end of non-journal addition.]
We headed up to Chalk Creek Canyon to get a site at one of three campgrounds. On the way, we quickly realized we had been up this road before. I had the journals from our previous Colorado trips in the glovebox and we found the entry, but I had failed to record the details. So they were no help at all, except for the fun I had re-reading them. Dave was certain the campgrounds were icky, dusty and dank. I said, “Those words are mutually exclusive. How can you have dusty and dank?” Basically I was disagreeing with him and he did not like it. Tensions were rising once again, and as we passed car after car after car after RV after RV after RV, it began to sink in that we may not even be able to find a site in this strange area.
Sure enough, the first two campgrounds were full. But the third time’s the charm. We scored a single handicapped spot that they do not open up to non-handicapped campers until after 7 pm. Which makes me think of reverse discrimination and all that, but I will refrain from going there now. This is not the time or the place.
We squeezed two tents and the camper into a single spot
— perfectly legal, apparently, because 8 people is the max. Jan set about to making dinner: Chicken Kabobs and Risotto.
Hmmm. Sounds ambitious.
It was. The long prep and cooking time gave the planning committee lots of time, however, to chew on the plan. While the line cooks were busy skewering meat,
The planning committee was, once again, sipping cool, tall vodka tonics that materialized only after I had popped my beer. While they discussed business, I sat back, eating cheese, drinking beer, listening and waiting for an offer of my own tall, cool vodka tonic. (I would be waiting a long time.)
I listened to various this and that’s about the plan, growing increasingly alarmed at the cavalier way in which the decision about our next days were being made. Frankly, it’s the same feeling I’ve had while sitting in various city counsel or board meetings over the years. I used to think boards made sound decisions based on solid research and good discussion. I remember sitting in some of my first board meetings with my jaw agape — surely they won’t vote on this right now, will they? How can they? Do we have a second? Passed! What the…?
And, sadly, this drink-sipping planning committee appeared no different.
I could sit in silence no longer. It was speak now or forever hold my peace! I jumped in with my opinion (The right one.), that the Dunes deserved a full day and not a drive-by at noon like they seemed to be agreeing on. What were they thinking? It was the most important part of the trip! When our kids learned we were going back to Colorado for a third time this year, they said that was fine, so long as we went to the Dunes again! Getting there at noon, when the sun turns the sand into hot lava and spending an hour or two, was not going to cut it! Grace and Lydia had never even seen them!
***pant, pant, gasp ***
I proposed the full monty, including spending the night at the campground in order for the kids to have adequate time there.
“The Queen has spoken,” said Wes.
And the decision was made.
I’m glad the Koo’s are fitting in so well!
Dinner was absolutely delicious. What a treat to sit on my big fat butt while dinner magically appeared on my plate.
This is what camping must be like for Morgan and Charlie!
After our late dinner and a few obligatory marshmallows, the Menke’s started their nightly teeth-brushing ritual and made their way toward the camper. I think the Koo’s are a little stunned to realize we all go to bed so early. I think they had this idea we’d stay up late, sitting around the fire, sipping wine and having deep and wonderful discussions.
Night night everyone!