Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Monday, August 20, 2007
It's been just over a week since we returned from vacationing (holiday) in Colorado (Southwestern U.S.) We're all getting settled back in and readying ourselves for the kids returning to school tomorrow (Buddy Boy to 2nd grade, Sweet Pea to Kindergarten).
When I was a kid our family took a camping trip every summer (usually for two weeks). We traveled all over the U.S. and Canada. It was a great way to have fun, see some scenery, meet great people, and learn some geography and history without really trying. I never appreciated how great those trips were at the time, but I do now, and hope to pass some of the same memories along to my own kids. Because of time constraints at work, I'm usually limited to only one week off at a time, but it's still great to take a trip with the whole family. Liz refuses to camp, but it's still fun even if you're staying in a motel or condo.
We loaded up the "family truckster" and left early on Saturday morning. Although in an ideal world the kids would both gaze placidly out at the scenery all day and not get in any fights, we decided to serve the sanity of all involved, and bought a portable DVD player for the car. It's better than drugging them, and has the advantage of being legal. We drove for 11 hours the first day, and got as far as Limon, Colorado. That's about 760 miles (1216 km) with a 7 and 5 year old. While not perfect, the DVD player worked wonders in inducing a trance like state for hours at a time. While I still don't believe in its routine use in the car, I must say I now understand those parents that do.
There isn't much to see or do in Limon (apologies to any Limonites), and we pressed on the next morning another 380 miles (608 km) to Durango, CO, which was going to be our base for the week. We got there early enough that we were able to get some time in in the pool. We stayed at a condominium complex which was OK, if a bit dated.
One of the first things we did in the area was to explore Mesa Verde national park. This park is noted for being the site of many cliff dwellings left by the Anasazi Native American tribes. We always think of America as a young country, and tend to forget that there were people here a long time ago. The Anasazi came to Mesa Verde in about 600 A.D. First they dwelled in huts dug in the ground, while the cliff dwellings pictured were probably built in the 1200's. The Anasazi left this area for unknown reasons near the end of the 1200's. We're always ensured of getting a lot of knowledge out of guided tours, as Buddy Boy can't help but ask at least 3 questions every 5 minutes (even though we prompt him to take turns and let others also ask). He does ask some good questions, though.
We had to hike a couple of miles to get to the ruins, but the kids held up well, and it was well worth it. The kids also did well on some other hikes we took during the week. They collected a bunch of rocks which they ended up stuffing first in their pockets, and later in the cupholders in the car.
What would a trip to mining country be without panning for gold. We took a couple of off road jeep trails, and besides seeing some great scenery we also caught a little "gold fever" while panning for gold. The temperatures during the day were in the high 80's to mid '90's (31-35 degrees C) around Durango, which is at 6500' (1980 meters), but it dropped into the 60's to 70's (16-22 C) when we were on some of the trails that went up as far as 13,000 feet (3962 meters).
We drove up to Silverton (an old mining town) instead of taking the historic narrow gauge train because the train trip takes 3.5 hours (rather than a little over an hour driving). We love old trains, but didn't think the kids would be up for that long sitting on the train. Once there we explored some ghost towns out of town, as well as saw some alpine meadows and drove by some snow.
The trip (like all good things) came to an end much too soon. Before we knew it we had to fire up the DVD player for the trip back home. The only casualty on the trip was a headphone cord that got chewed thru, which was spot repaired with a band-aid (plaster).
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.