Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Vacation Alphabet - Part 1

A couple posts back, I wrote about how preparing for a vacation gets me all stressed out, and how even once I'm actually ON vacation, I have a hard time relaxing. And so because I felt myself an abecedarian when it comes to knowing how to kick back and get away from it all, I charged myself with the task of creating a Vacation Alphabet. The intent was simply to challenge myself to take notice, to reflect along the way. Which is good, because if the intent had really been to learn how to relax (and then practice so doing) I would have failed miserably. A relaxing vacation does not involve getting up at 3:00 on multiple days (or ever). A relaxing vacation does not require a person to be on their feet for 7-12 hours at a time, besieged by sun, wind, rain, and hail. A relaxing vacation generally does not involve riding in a car until stir crazy. And so, I can't exactly say that I had a relaxing vacation. I did, however, have a WONDERFUL time. Made some INCREDIBLE memories with my family. Spent precious face time with friends I love DEARLY. And drank in the tremendous BEAUTY of God's creation. Here are a few of the highlights, ABC-style.

A is for Accomplishment 
EARLY Sunday morning, Travis, my dad, and I abandoned the comfort of our beds and stumbled bleary-eyed out to the car. (As if waking in order to leave the timeshare by 4:00 wasn't bad enough, the fire alarm had gone off in our building at 2:30am, mandating our pajama-clad evacuation, after which we huddled together in the cool of the night for about half an hour before allowed to return to our unit.) We arrived at the trail head for Mt. Quandary as the sun was coming up, and began the 5.9 mile round trip hike to the summit and back. This was my second 14er, Travis' 21st, and my dad's first. As we began hiking through the trees, we had no idea of the EPIC JOURNEY the day would hold for us. It was a LONG day. It was an arduous hike that took its toll on all of us, especially my 69 year-old dad. We encountered sun, wind, hail, and rain during the 11 hours we spent on the mountain that day. We felt our hearts pounding in our chests, our lungs gasping the thin air, our knees protesting the pounding of coming down all those rocks. But WE MADE IT to the summit and back down to the car. And we did it TOGETHER. And that is an ACCOMPLISHMENT, achieved with the two men I love most, that I will remember always.   
at the summit of Mt. Quandary

B is for Baby & Boulder & Bus
After we parted ways with my parents in Vail, we got to spend a few days of quality time near Denver with friends Rachel & Eric and their baby, Ty. On the day Travis & Eric climbed Mt. Princeton, Rachel and I took a trip to Boulder to visit the their farmer's market. Ty gets fussy during long car rides, but singing calms him down. Enter: a long, strange rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus." Rachel and I sang a reprise on the way home from church the next day, causing Eric to exclaim, "What kind of bus is this?!" The kind that provides an outlet for my litany of animal noises. Among other things, the bus had doggies, kitties, cows, chickens, and monkeys. Lots of monkeys. :)
cuteness himself
C is for Cairn
In July 2009 I hiked my first fourteener, Mt. Evans, with Travis by my side. I added a word to my vocabulary that day: cairn. Do you know what a cairn is? A cairn is "a mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path." I learned that cairns are essential to finding your way on the mountain, to following the trail you are meant to take. Because the Rocky Mountains are indeed very rocky, a pile of stones off in the distance doesn't necessarily stand out when you scan the horizon. Sometimes you have to really look for them. Likewise, the trail ahead isn't always clear. Hiking Evans, I turned finding cairns into a bit of a game. It was a simple game that consisted of: hike along, and when you find the next cairn, yell "CAIRN!" Really. That's it. But there's something about it that I find amusing and engaging; I become like a kid, excited at finding each successive item in one of those "hidden picture" activities in magazines for kids. (Anybody else out there grow up with Highlights?) So when we hiked Quandary & Sherman on this trip, I played my game. I searched for the cairns, and loudly announced my discoveries. When you've left the trail head behind, but you're still a long way from the summit, focusing on the peak is discouraging (at least to me); focusing instead on reaching the next cairn, and then the next, and then the next, is much less daunting. Each cairn is an indication of where to go, and as you look back, proof that you've made progress, even if it doesn't seem like it. There are a lot of parallels between hiking a trail to the summit, and life. Cairns are important to the journey.
Travis and I with a cairn and the view--OH, the VIEW!--at the summit of Mt. Sherman
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

1 comment:

Bethany Johnson said...

Thanks for the update!! Very fun to hear about your trip...hope to hear more in person the next time I see you!