Going and Coming -- Colorado
If we thought about it, we wouldn’t have done it. So we didn’t. The road was calling our name and we answered it with a four thousand mile road trip – the six of us and sweet Lucy – in six days.
We knew our destination and we had some ideas about what we wanted to do in the in between. We knew we needed our camping box and some clothes and some stuff to do in the car.
For the week leading up to the trip, the children were frozen in waiting mode. They were set on getting to Colorado.
The road gave us stories for a lifetime.
Thursday afternoon, we were waiting for George to finish class. The van was totally packed, the animals were ready for the farm sitter, and the “when is Daddy getting home so we can leave?” button was stuck on play.
We ate lunch at Chic-fil-a to keep all food prep to a minimum and to help pass time. When we got home, Hannah was playing outside while I tidied up the yard a bit. She found my sweet tea. She drank my sweet tea. Thirty minutes before a 24-hour long ride, sweet Hannah pounded caffiene. She went wild. It was hilarious and a bit scary. Fortunately it had the effect of wearing her out entirely and she slept for the first three hours of the trip.
Our first stop was Hammond, LA. We ate dinner with our dear friends the Fredericks, brushed our teeth and hit the road. By the time we met the Mississippi River, the sun was low and the factory lights lit up the sky. The kids begged us to wake them up to see the Mighty Mississippi’. We drop jawed at the size of the river and the barges and the activity until the dark road ahead led them back into slumber.
It was time to get serious. Driving through the night would buy us the miles we needed to make this trip happen. Giddy with wonder lust, we nailed it. As a matter of fact, we drove ourselves into nowhere. No coffee land. Not much of anything land Texas. We spotted a DONUT sign and a Wal-mart.
George crept into the tiny, slightly shady shop to see if it was worth it. He waved us in for delicious donuts and bad coffee, but it was coffee enough. We needed to get out some wiggles, so we headed to Wal-mart and did some rounds in the empty outdoor living parking lot section before reloading for more miles.
By lunch we were at Palo Doro Canyon for a quick exploration and picnic.
By mid afternoon, we were in New Mexico and touring the Santa Fe Trail museum. Two lovely ladies gave us a tour and fed us cookies and lollipops and told beautiful stories from their lives and the lives of their town. We heard about rattle snakes, famous stagecoach robbers and a lady that lost her life saving her townspeople from a flood.
By dinner we were in Trinidad Colorado. We camped at a beautiful lake with a slight breeze. I mentioned to George that we might need to think about the wind as we set up the tent. Little did I know that we were going to encounter some serious wind during the next few days.
We met dear friend Wilson Brissett and headed towards the Sand Dunes. The Dunes were quite fantastic. Wind whipped at us relentlessly. Hannah and I walked the roads while the crew bound towards the dunes determined to make the top. A few hours later they came stumbling off the dunes caked in sand and chapped from the sun and wind from their climb 1/3 of the way up!
The wind stayed put. We did too. Our camping site for the night was on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley and the dunes. We were determined to see Zapata Falls in the morning, so we slept with the whipping wind and ate a hot breakfast and French press coffee at our makeshift kitchen on the back of the van.
It was worth the wait and the cold and the wind. We hiked to the falls. Icy cold water gushed over slippery rocks and a wall of rock kept the falls tucked out of sight. The kids slipped out of their shoes and immediately found their way to the falls and the sheet of ice clinging to the rocks. Elated, they asked me to join them. The painfully cold water tightly gripped at my feet as I tip toed and maneuvered over boulder and stone. I’m so thankful for their fearless joy for adventure. It was glorious.
As we enjoyed a slight respite from the wind and some warmth from the sun, we noticed hummingbirds dancing around blooming bushes. For an hour, we sat nose to nose with flighty, flitting, chatty miniature birds.
After our morning adventure, we packed back in the van and headed towards the unknown.
We landed in Salida at lunch. Dealing with a lot of dirty and a bit of tired, I didn’t really have it in me to haul the crew and the cooler to the park ¼ mile from the van. At the corner of the parking lot, I noticed a little gravel lot overlooking the Arkansas River right where some Kayaks were working on tricks. We decided to plop ourselves there. While we snacked on pickles and salt and vinegar potato chips and BBQ sandwiches, we clapped for the class of Kayakers as the instructor gave them clues to flipping and turning. A kayaker looked up at us and yelled, “George Boggs!” There floated April Lewandowski.
April Lewandowski. I know April because she was a mentor to George. She is one of his heroes. She taught George how to be a camp counselor (basically an amazing teacher), how to swim, how to kayak, how to camp, how to love nature and people, and how experience God through this. She’s in our conversations regularly. She is Aunt Mary’s best friend. She just happened to travel from Denver for the class that we were watching from a place I picked because I was dirty and tired.
From there we headed to Eleven Mile Canyon and back into the wind. We set up camp and had a lovely curry Wilson brought along and played until we were exhausted. The wind and the altitude worked on Hannah. Her nose was bleeding and her hair stuck right to it, but it didn't slow her down a bit! The wind died down for the night and the moon shone like headlights into our tent. Hannah slept through it all. She slept all three nights in the tent better than she sleeps at home.
From Eleven Mile Canyon, we headed to Colorado Springs. On the way we stopped at a park for lunch. The wind was so intense we tried to drag a picnic table into the little bathroom shelter spot for some relief, but that didn’t even help, so we danced around to stay warm and laughed back at the crazy wind.
By the time we reached the Garden of the Gods, it was beautiful and sunny. We spent the afternoon hoping rocks and soaking up warm.
We finally arrived at George’s sister Martha’s beautiful home after dinner. We played until dark and camped on her floor. We celebrated Jim’s birthday and retirement from the Air Force over pancakes and bacon and stories from Jim before waving goodbye and promising to come again soon.
We streamlined our way back through Kansas and fought the dark and stormy night through Oklahoma. Once again we found a very tiny, old delicious Donut Shop in Memphis before crossing back over the Mississippi River. We thought we’d find a Starbucks, but didn’t. By 9:30, we were getting pretty grumpy and yawny. I started searching the small towns we passed for coffee shops and finally found one.
Our map wasn’t helping us find it. A sweet lady noticed our confusion and helped us locate our caffeine. By the time we got into the coffee shop, she had popped in and paid for our coffees!!!! We must have looked rough.
We stopped in Birmingham, Alabama for lunch and rode up an elevator to the top of Vulcan, a huge statue overlooking the city and returned to navigating our way home.
The remaining miles were not nearly as exciting as the rest of the trip. I felt like we were all on pause waiting to cross into Florida, but then we still had a long way to go. We ate dinner in the back of a Wal-mart parking lot and left with very black feet and sticky arms and legs from a delicious watermelon.
At 9:30, Wednesday night, we arrived home. This trip had our name stamped all over it. It was all done in George and Elisha Boggs fashion. Very loose planning, very loose expectations, and very few dollars. It was awesome.