our summer road trip: part 2

Our family had the privilege of taking a road trip to Colorado this summer, and amidst many fun adventures (read about it here), our van broke. Descending down the mountain after our long hike to Calypso Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park, the brakes broke on the van.

It took a couple of days for Nathan to find the parts, get to town to pick them up, and repair the van brakes. The Lord kept us safe, and we were so grateful for a running vehicle to make the two-day trip back to Michigan.

While it was still so cold in the mountains (and five days without a van), doing laundry at the kitchen sink, reading picture books (which we brought with us from the library) by the fire, and playing board games filled our days.

Finally wrapped in sunshine, we spent the day at a nearby town picnicking, fishing, carousel riding, and visiting the obligatory ice cream shop. I almost forgot about the tiny homemade donuts we ate in a 19th century train car!

The whole family enjoyed the company of our cabin neighbors from down the hill for a few dinners and good games of cards. The big kids roused to the added competition. They have been family friends for three generations watching our family grow from trip to trip. They shared good stories and smoothly engaged the children in conversation.

As for wildlife, on this trip we saw many stellar’s jay, a magpie, wild turkeys, deer, and three male elk (bulls). I’m always very happy to not sight a bear : ).

When our cabin days were over, we began our descent through the St. Vrain canyon, rose skies ahead as we drove east. The older children took a melancholic glance saying “good morning” and “good-bye” and everything that goes in between.

 with love, Damaris

P.S. Both on the way out and on the way back, we stayed in Nebraska getting to attend church together and sharing much special cousin time with all of Nathan’s family. Fire works, fishing, building and shooting potato guns, swimming, target shooting, and a talent show made for a most memorable time.

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our summer road trip: part 1

Family travel is such a privilege and a gift. This summer we enjoyed a trip west to Colorado. The blur of passing landscapes, munching messy sandwiches, and playing I-SPY until we had a headache, was all part of the whimsy and sense of adventure we experienced.

We welcomed the changing horizon through the different states with the excitement of spending almost two weeks at the family cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

On the second day of driving, the mountains were lifting themselves up as if by magic out of the distance, small in the begining and growing bigger the closer we got.

The familiar cabin greeted all ten giddy vacationers, and the unloading took the rest of the first day. We slid a frozen pasta dish into the oven while we made beds, settled into our rooms, and filled the fridge and pantry with our groceries. For this long cabin stay, I like to have several meals prepared and frozen from home so kitchen prep is minimal allowing us more time to relax. You can read about one of the recent road trips here.

Summer was delayed this year. The air was sharp and supremely clear with even a little snow. On Sunday, we awoke while it was barely light to flurries. For lack of clean warm clothes, we relished our little family worship instead of walking to the village log church.

Nathan and I savored the empty mornings, when the sky was so blue, the floating piles of clouds so shimmering and pearly. We brewed full pots of coffee and swirled pancake batter in a bowl. Slowly, the children would make their way downstairs to the smell of breakfast. With their clean morning faces and bright eyes, each day looking ready for a new adventure.

We hiked as many mornings as we could (if it wasn’t too cold or raining) with the children scampering ahead of us like puppies. Pine needles crunched under our feet as we ascend to Big Rock. While mom frets over holding onto each kid and trying not to look over the edge of the rocks, Nathan and the children love to look for dark roofs of cabins that lay scattered and follow the ribbon of road.

The temperature rose enough that the pine needles smelled their nostalgic sunburnt scent, and we played many rounds of horseshoes.

The wildflowers all around us assumed their full glory. God’s design is perfect!

The only long hike this year was Calypso Cascades. The eight miles round trip were an adventure mostly of endurance. Even little Samuel hiked the whole way there, and Nathan carried him on the way back. We stopped several times on our hike to take in the air and the view. The scape far and wide was rocky and evergreen.

Driving back to the cabin, the van’s brakes broke.

That wraps up this first road trip post, but you can expect more about what happened to the big family van the rest of our trip experiences next week.

 with love, Damaris

Mountain Mornings (Trip Part 3)

Photo Credit: Nathan

The silver underside of the aspen shimmer with the slightest breeze, and I feel the sweet morning wind from the wide-open window. Mornings begin much earlier than at home. Partly because of time zones, and mostly because we can’t wait for a hearty breakfast! I sit to enjoy my coffee, and smile at the little chilled mornings faces and bright eyes. We enjoy baked oatmeal with cherries, and Daddy reads a portion of a chapter in the book of Proverbs.

We decide on a hike and pack lunches quickly. Alexander and William fill water bottles and load it all in backpacks. It’s a joy to start our trek in sweatshirts – in the end of June, but the day always warms up while we hike. The smell is unmistakable – a mix of ground granite and arid pine needles crushed under our feet. The chatter of squirrels’ quarrellings accompanies us always, and at the summit, the sun beats hard. I always fret about kids holding on and watching their step! On cue, Nathan begins instruction about keeping a low center of gravity and walking on the sides of our feet : )

Photo Credit: Nathan

Of all the children, invariably it’s William who finds our wilderness wonders – strange animal bones, remains of an old camp sight, quartz stones, and even antique engine parts!

Photo Credit: Nathan

After a picnic break, and as we make our way back to the cabin, we divide up some juicy apples to munch on the way. Now back at the cabin (a little sun-kissed and a lot tired), Baby Samuel goes down for a nap, and we breathe in the quiet afternoon.

Days unrushed, unplugged, and unexpected.

with love. Damaris


The Journey West (Trip Part 1)

Smooth shades of green lay on both sides of the road for miles. The sandhills of western Nebraska are beautiful! It’s definitely beef country, and the little girls love to call out all the cows they see! Daddy asks, “Who would like to have a ranch out here?” We see calves following their mamas, and some are black, camel-colored, and brown with a nose spot. The girls comment on the sheen of their hide and at how healthy the cows look as they make their way to the shade of a cloud.

Tumble weeds roll in these prairies and gets caught on wire fences. Not a tree in sight. The boys spot antelope on top of the knolls, and two stare at us driving by. Finally, still in Wyoming, the peaked clouds at the end of the road are still. The further we drive, the higher and wider they grow towards the sky. Then we realize that there before us, calling us, spread the Rockies.

Photo Credit: Nathan

As we get closer to the foothills, the snow makes Indian Chief’s face more pronounced than I remember. We make the obligatory last-ditch stop at the grocery store, then up the mountain we wind – through the Saint Vrain Canyon. It always takes my breath away – feeling so small in between these momentous rocks. We follow the Saint Vrain River, the road clinging to the side of the rocks, as we gain altitude and feel the temperature drop. Nathan rolls the windows down and tells everyone to breath deep….ahhh the mountain air!

Our first stop is Crystal Springs.

with love. Damaris