My mom loved to listen to John Denver … so us kids learned to love him too. I can’t hear a John Denver song without thinking of my mom and the crazy times we would play his albums and sing along at the top of our lungs. I especially loved his Christmas Album.
This song especially always reminds me of the time we spent in Colorado during our move from Scotland to Virginia Beach. It comes to me in bits and pieces, the memories. When I look at the photos I remember more.
Of course my memories may be wrong … and my Auntie and cousins can correct me. I remember my cousins bedroom being in an attic space of sorts – at the top of the stairs – and it stairs split the room . There were railings on either side so you wouldn’t fall down – and the stairs were pretty wide. I thought this was pretty cool and wanted a room just like it.
I remember the house was a beautiful yellow color on the outside – and there was a large green backyard to run around in. A big floppy fluffy dog that I just adored. We rode bikes and wore cowboy hats. My auntie dressed up in my dad’s navy uniform … I remember that from the photos. During a pretty severe storm we were told not to run the water or flush the toilets. To this day I don’t know why that was … maybe there was really some sort of issue with the city water system while it was storming?
We drove over to see the Air Force Academy – that was VERY impressive. I remember the triangular shaped building and the massive white stairs .. the mountains all around us. We drove up to Pikes Peak and stopped in a place called Cripple Creek to pan for gold. We found a few nuggets of fool’s gold, but that was it!
The highlight of that vacation was visiting the MoJo Ranch in Montana. My Uncle’s parents owned and operated the ranch. They had horses … oh my gosh I fell in love with horses the second I saw them. And when they said that “Whiskey” would be my horse while I was there … HEAVEN. I loved that horse like no other thing on the planet. We went on a ride one day, on a trail that ran up in to the mountain with some very precarious spots – where a wrong step would cause horse and rider to tumble all the way down! It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.
Dad wanted to take us to Yellow Stone National Park while we were close. This entailed getting over a mountain … and the higher we went the more scared my older sister got. She was freaking out at how close the car was to the edge … I think my mom was pretty much scared to death as well .. so we never made it to Yellow Stone. I just wanted to see Yogi Bear!
I’m not sure if we went camping on this first trip to Colorado, or if it was a future visit. But I do remember going camping. It was beautiful! We had to park the car at the camp site parking lot, then ride in the camper over a creek. This in itself was the coolest thing I had ever experienced … driving through a creek! We passed wildflowers and giant (to me) pine trees. The smell was fresh, and crisp, and green! Butterflies were fluttering around, and I caught a glimpse of my first eagles and hawks. The sky was such an amazing clear blue color.
We hiked (a bit) along a wide gravel path – and went fishing for the first time. Before we decided on sleeping in tents or in the camper, the Park Ranger came around to warn everyone of Bear Cubs and a mama bear in the vicinity. I so wanted to see the bears! My mom and Aunt put their foots down, and we packed up the camper and moved on to another camp ground! I wanted to sleep in a tent like the boys. Even back then I didn’t think it was fair that they got to sleep in a tent and I had to sleep in the camper. Now I would be thankful for a camper – feminism pushed aside for comfort!
I’ve probably smooshed several vacations to Colorado together in my mind – but this is what comes to mind when I think of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Springs. Fresh and clear air, crisp and cool temperatures, stunning beauty all around, and lots of family fun and love.