So anyway... here's the post I almost finished (and just finally did) at the beginning of August after our July vacation... This summer has been a whirlwind. Super, super busy, but I'm back to blogging and work. And the kids are back to school today. It's been a wonderful summer for us. Hope it was for you too.
I don't know what happens to me after a vacation. I go quiet. I think I need time to absorb everything that transpires while I've been in new territory. And this summer... my goodness, it has been the busiest I can remember since having toddlers. The combination of the two means I've been awol for a bit here, but I'm ready, almost, to dive back into a more creative time. We still have three weeks left before school starts and we are alternately cramming/savoring the waning days of summer. It's been a steamer here- 90 degree plus days all summer, but I haven't really minded since it's by far the BEST summer I've had in four or five years. I've been happy.
The drive to Steamboat Springs from our home in Utah is about six hours, seven if you count food and potty breaks. Any longer and we would have had either a mutiny or a hotel room to deal with; the kids are good, but anything past five hours breaks the "no whine" zone.
Personally, I love the drive. The wide open, windy spaces of Wyoming and Colorado seem to blow away old cobwebs in my head, and my mind finds room for new thoughts. I love that sense of expansiveness and possibility I always feel when we drive through the west.
Steamboat is filled with fun and quirky shops. It has that old 1950's Western town feel to it, complete with original soda fountain drugstores on a couple of corners. The mountains are rolling, the air is WONDERFUL, and the Yampa river meanders it's way through to picturesque perfection. I could live here, easy.
The old and the new and funky meet up along the shop streets. Lots of artsy folks live here. Lots of shop dogs too, and that makes it all the more fun when a furry greeter wanders over.
We met Bosco, the BIGGEST (and stinkiest) dog we had ever seen. He weighs in at over two hundred pounds and looks like a giant friendly wolf. He was so hot that day, poor guy.
We went to a very cool local bookstore/bakery and Sophey found a book about dogs, of course :) If you can't quite read the quote it says, "Fox-terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." True story. I know.
An upscale consignment shop. We bought aqua blue flowery vases for our anniversary in this store.
Mike and I watched early morning balloon rides over our condo while the kids slept.
Breakfast for eight :)
The girls and I painted one afternoon while the boys golfed and fished.
Sophey made an ice cream bowl into a jewelry holder.
And Ainsley made a serving bowl into an ice cream dish, cause that's how we roll, us artists... who needs normal?
The Hot Springs on a hot afternoon.
The Yampa River flows through Steamboat. We watched kids wading, dogs fetching, pretty moving clouds.
And then on our last day, we went tubing. We did this four years ago on our last trip to Steamboat. I held onto Sophey's tube handle and we sailed down the two mile float trip. No problem. Not this year. I hit the first waterfall. couldn't hold onto Sophey's tube, went spinning backward half-way down the watefall, then did an absolutely magnifiecent Olympic style double-backward somersault head frist into the river. Oh boy... did I ever. Totally submerged myself and came up like a drownded river rat... with running mascara. My kids further down the river saw the whole thing and were dying laughing. Dyyiiing laughing. Mike was concerned; I yelled that I was fine and waved them all on as I got back on my tube. I knew I'd never live it down if I bailed.
Sooo..... I floated along, trying to catch up with Sophey and help her finish the trip. But the river had different plans for me again, and I was a rock and waterfall magnet/disaster just waiting to happen. Half a mile further downstream, the two rocks in the photo below had me pinned between them. I COULD NOT kick my way free, and finally went through sideways when a surge hit behind me... and...(again), I did a magnificent sideways Olympic-worthy somersault. It. Scared. The. Bejeezus. Out. Of. Me. Holly @#$%^! I went totally under (again) for maybe thirty seconds... it seemed like an eternity. I felt the rocks beating me on all sides, and saw the rocks (my eyes were open, weirdly, the whole time) above my head I had just barely missed. I seriously had a MOMENT. I saw a newspaper headline in my mind's eye with the words, "FREAK TUBING ACCIDENT KILLS MOTHER OF FOUR." while I scrambled to get my feet on the river bottom." Crazy, but true. I've never had an experience like it. I must have looked like the biggest dork ever, and there I was thinking I'm about to die tubing in this gentle little river...what a stupid way to go... bizarreness.
An older geltleman and two ladies helped me out of the river, and asked me what if I was going to get back in. I said I didn't think so (I was done caring what my kids thought of me by this point) but I wasn't sure either. They offered to walk down the path with me awhile while I decided. We came to a clearing and I saw Sophey stuck in a corner of the river, trying to work her way out.... and that did it. I thanked my rescuers and went back in. I had another moment, and through my mind flashed the verse, "perfect love casts out all fear." Crazy again, but true again. The fear completely left me and I calmly got back in the river; I caught up with Sophey and we made it almost to the end of the river trip before it started to rain... I looked up at the sky and yelled, "go ahead and rain... I can't get any wetter!" It started to P O U R. Lighting laced the sky right above us. Surreal. Ainsley was freaking out about the lightning, and we were running for cover under a bridge until each one of us climbed out of the river. We caught the tubing bus back to the rental shop and then drove back to our condo. We showered. I showed off my new ginormous bruises. And then we went to out to dinner.
We laughed about the crazy, weird day. The kids laughed about me... lots. I was trying hard to be a good sport. They wanted to go bowling after dinner. The vacation tradition is miniature golf for us, but it was still raining. I was still working at being the good sport when my right foot slipped out from under me and I went flying, fully sprawled out (non-Olympic style) onto the bowling alley floor. Three America's Funniest Home Video moments in one day. I could have been a star and won ten thousand dollars if only one of my rolling on the river/bowling alley floor dying laughing children had captured the moment. Do you know how slick bowling alley lanes are? Do they spend hours every night polishing those floors with Crisco or do they use WD40? I crawled off of the lane like Mr. Bean doing an ice skating skit. Luckily only one other family was there at the time, the mom came over and tried to make me feel better, she said that she had done the same thing once, but broke her wrist when she fell. Somehow I felt so much better and so much worse when she came over to help me feel better. Mike looked at me, trying not to laugh (he should have earned a diplomacy medal that day) and asked if I was okay. I said I was, except for one seriously bruised ego. He said are you done for the day? I said I was. He said that's probably a good idea. I agreed.
We went back to the condo and there in the gray sky was the brightest double rainbow I've ever seen. It was one of my craziest, weirdest, scariest, funniest, and dorkiest days I've ever had. Glad I lived through it.
Have you ever ridden seven miles in the car after a near fatal tubing/bowling alley incident day? Nah, I didn't think so. Every muscle hurt. It wasn't fun... but it was a highly memorable vacation. I still don't know quite what to think of that last day in Steamboat, but I will tell you I made it unforgetablle for my kids and husband. I think it might make a good funeral story for me someday, at least. Glad I was helpful, like that.