SEA LEVEL TO 9494
Suzanne and I live at 1,227 feet above sea level in our small city. Since I live north of the city, and I am eye-level with the tops of the water towers in town from my front porch, I am probably a few hundred feet higher than that. Gail lives at 2,858 feet, perhaps a bit higher because she lives on a hill in her small town.
My first post detailed our adventures at sea level on the beach. The subsequent posts detailing our travels took place at 9,494 feet in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
While on this trip several years ago, we traveled up nearby Pike’s Peak by cog train to an elevation of 14, 114 feet. Technically, we were higher than that at cruising altitude around 35,000 feet on our flights to and from the beach. But that doesn’t really count.
These travels are anticipated before, enjoyed during, and savored in their memories. But, like all events in life we enjoy, they are typically here and gone.
I work hard to enjoy life at my daily altitude as much as I enjoy it at each end of the altitude spectrum we travel to. But that is hard.
I find myself eagerly anticipating the arrival of each trip, and savoring those memories after each trip. During the trip, I want time to stand still. I want to languish in the minutes and hours without them passing by so quickly. Without them being over so quickly when we find ourselves back at home again.
Back at home, where the meat and potatoes of life are served up daily, where Real Life dwells in our day-to-day rounds. Where we live with our families. Where the minutes and the days may tick by slowly, but the months and years whizz by quickly.
Back at home, on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons and everything else in between that constitutes life. Because, as we all know too well, time away is a respite, a sabbatical from the work of life.
Another Colorado trip has been here, and is gone already. We eagerly awaited it—as we always do, languished in the moments there, and we are now relishing the memories—once again. If my calculations are right, this marks the twentieth time we have gone west, young women.
There was a point in my life a few years ago when the pull of the mountains—and the beach too—were a mystery to me. Like the full moon, I am drawn to the mountains instinctively; the deepest part of me is pulled by some invisible but undeniable force to travel there.
I decided upon a single word that describes this force that draws me to all three: energy. The mountains, the beach and the full moon have a living spirit about them, one that draws not just me and my sisters, but humans in general toward them. Which would explain the high real estate prices in such places. People with good money pay their good money to live in or near the mountains, and/or near the water. And most of us cannot deny the beauty of the full moon, even though we can’t purchase real estate there—yet.
So, we go. And we go again. And again. And we come home again.
If I could characterize our latest trip in one word, relative to our other mountain getaway weekends, it would be this: subdued.
Perhaps it was the delayed departure—one month after our usual Labor Day jaunt. However, we frequently talked about taking a later trip to enjoy the change of color in the mountains, so we relished this new schedule. Perhaps it was the touch of altitude sickness one of us experienced—or both, that made this trip a bit more laid-back than normal.
You wouldn’t know it from our usual stop in Limon,
Bear claws were always Gail’s favorite…
Or the great lengths that our newly-acquired friends go to in order to be in our group,
Or the cult followers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show waiting in line with us to see the show at the local theater. We hadn’t yet seen it, and we had no idea what we were in for…
Perhaps the most surprising, unplanned event was the fortuitous, purely-by-chance meeting of our former hometown farm neighbors on Bennett Avenue.
Gail and I used to babysit the young man on the right. He now protects and serves our country. Thank you for your service, Paul.
You may know the subdued nature of our trip by the beautiful aspens as they turn their glorious golden color, as they do every fall. We welcomed this beautiful sight, having never traveled here in October before.
Their seasonal slow-down perhaps helped set the tone for our relaxed weekend. Perhaps we, too, shed some temporary coverings—internally, of course. The daytime temperatures were relatively balmy, but the evening and night-time temperatures were flirting with the freezing mark, so we put on extra layers on the outside.
You may know it by the mountains in their fall grandeur lined in the brilliant golden of the aspens, their fresh air and their majesty against the bright blue sky have a way of opening up one’s mind and soul, which is not a bad thing. Instead of reaching out as much as we normally do, perhaps we reached inward.
John Denver sings Rocky Mountain High to us every trip, so you wouldn’t know it by that..
I signed up for the 1,000 feet below adventure at this local attraction with my family many years ago. Gail and Suzanne have yet to sign up for it. I went to the gift shop by myself; I needed a souvenir with this awesome name on it.
In my profession as a speech therapist, we distinguish between receptive and expressive language. Expressive language is that which we put forth, typically in our speech. Essentially, it is what we express.
Receptive language is that which we take in from others, typically by listening. It is what we receive.
Typically, my posts about our travels detail and expand upon our expressions, that which we put forth. Typically, we have plenty of interactions with others; an abundance of connections and expressions made. This trip was no different.
Besides the family from our home and our history pictured above, Gail and Suzanne connected with four people who pulled up in a car with Kansas plates outside our hotel. It was a Veteran’s tag, so the home county was not on the plate.
The family pictured above lived about two miles—as the crow flies—south of our farm. One gentleman in the car grew up about three miles north of our farm.
Sometimes, like on this trip, doing nothing special is really something special. Sometimes, like on this trip, traveling without a plan is the most liberating form of vacationing. Sometimes, our structured lives at home and at work spill over into our vacations, making us feel as if we must have a plan.
On vacation and in life in general, I often seem to do better without a plan. Gail and Suzanne travel that way, too. There is a long-standing joke between us about going to Colorado without a plan. Perhaps that is why we get along so well.
Perhaps that is why I can safely say this trip was one more of reception vs. expression. We let it all in.
The beauty of the aspens along with the change of seasons in the cool mountain temperatures was a refreshing new sight for us.
I received a little bit of jack from this machine, but I’m pretty sure I put forth more than that all told.
This is a common sight along “The Strip” of Cripple Creek. Gamblers and tourists come and go at all hours. Like us, they keep coming back for more.
“The Strip” is relatively subdued; I was obviously able to stand at the top of the hill without interruption from traffic to take this picture.
Two weeks ago this evening we returned home. This morning, I took these beautiful roses outside. They were waiting for us upon our arrival to our usual bed-and-breakfast/hotel; the proprietors do back flips to ensure we know how much they enjoy our stay. Gail and Suzanne took their share, and the rest came home with me. As with all their gestures of appreciation, we received them well.
Like the trip, however, they are temporary. The memory of this gesture, as well as all the new memories we made will remain. Until next time, we will languish in those memories, and anticipate future ones.
Every day in between, however, we will attempt to enjoy the moments here at our own altitudes, our own longitudes. Because here at home is where Real Life is lived.
My front porch view of the tops of the water towers and small buildings of our small city. The front porch of my home, where I live a pretty good real life.
Our trip was so subdued, in fact, that we forgot to take a group shot. We had a family event today, so we snapped this one just a few hours before this post. We make it work wherever we find ourselves together.