Today marks day 11 of our 28 day adventure, and we are really having a great time. I've tried to update various photos and captions to my Twitter account, and Instagram - which I'm still trying to figure out. But I've provided hyperlinks to the accounts for my mom ... and anyone else so inclined to follow along! :)
Here are some of the pictures and commentary of our trip thus far:
We departed our house at 3:15 AM on Tuesday, July 11. Remarkably, all of our luggage fit in to our minivan for our trip to the airport, once we added our Yakima skycap - and we were able to check it, in - uneventfully, and free of any additional baggage charge.
Once we'd all made it through security and boarded the flight, I was happily surprised when Charlie informed me we were all in one row, with three seats on one side, and three seats on the other of the plane. When I first booked the flight, I had recalled that we were not all together on our trip to Denver.
So while we were awaiting take-off, I was approached by a young man who informed me that I was sitting in his seat. Charlie - who had been holding all of our boarding passes - pulled mine out of the bundle and said, "Oh, I thought we were all in the same row. Jen, it looks like you've been upgraded and are sitting in first class - row 1A. Oops."
Since it was only 5:00 AM, I didn't give it much thought as I stood up and smiled at my children, while grabbing my bags to head up to the front of the plane - and the last bit of creature comforts that awaited me for the next month. But before I could exit my row - Charlie said to the young man, "Actually, why don't you take that seat in first class? That way our whole family can stay together."
Wait. What? Am I dreaming? Did I get bumped up to first class and my husband just gave it away - snap, like that? As I'm standing in my row, trying to grasp reality, the woman in the row behind caught my attention as she said, "Oh, no, no, no … Mama … you take that seat and you go sit up there in first class and drink a mimosa. Go - Go - RIGHT NOW. Don't you even think twice about it!"
But by that point, the guilt of leaving my children - and my husband - in the back of the plane, while I sat up at the front in my oversized seat with my warm towel, blanket and pillow, had taken hold and I nodded at the young man - who couldn't have been more than 25, and said, "That's fine. Go ahead. Enjoy it."
As he gasped, "No way! Are you serious?! Sweet!" he literally skipped to the front of the plane before I could change my mind. I settled in next to my girls who both gave me a scowl and said, "Why didn't you let ME sit up there?!" And I, in turn, looked to Charlie and gave him a scowl, to which he replied, "What? You wouldn't want to be at the front without us … would you?"
Um…? I think the correct response here is no?
Two and half hours later, we landed in Denver, we picked up our rented GMC 8-passenger Yukon, loaded it with all of our gear, leaving not an inch of space to spare - and took off for Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are the kids, fitting snuggly and brimming with excitement for our adventure.
And here they are 30 minutes later, when the exhaustion of being up at 2:45 AM caught up to them. (William had actually been asleep at woke up seconds before I snapped this photo. I love the expression on his sweet face...)
As night began to fall, so too did the temperature and the raindrops. We bundled up in our warmest clothes and Charlie introduced the kids to his favorite childhood game, Dungeons & Dragons - before everyone fell asleep by 8:15 PM.
The next morning, we were up - ate a breakfast of pancakes - and broke down camp in the drizzling rain. In the background, that brown box? It's our bear box - which we have become very proficient at using at each campsite.
Before we embarked on our day of driving around Rocky Mountain National Park and heading to our next destination, we stretched and did yoga - including a lot of "OMMMMMS!" while we breathed in the luscious pine-scented air.
We love Colorado!
It was a GLORIOUS day … and a perfect way for us to spend the 200th birthday of the other Henry David (Thoreau who was born on July 12, 1817).
As Thoreau so famously wrote in 1851, "In wildness is the preservation of the world" and we couldn't agree more.