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

Family Currents

During our Costco trip this week, a sweet lady asked to get her picture taken with us! The kids quickly lined up and grinned while her friend took a few pictures of our circus. We ran into her two more times in the store, and as we were checking out, she handed us a couple dozen cookies from the Costco bakery! It reminds me of the words of Jesus, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

To say we had a lot of laundry would be an understatement. The cabin (see trip posts here and here) doesn’t have washing machine. Since we had packed 6 outfits per person – for a family of 9 – we did go to the laundry mat in the nearest larger town. The workload was spread over a couple of days, but we washed 8 sleeping bags, 2 loads of whites, 5 blankets, 5 pillows, 4 loads of colors, and a half dozen stuffed animals! It feels so good to have drawers of clean clothes!

Stone fruit is in season around here, and the sweet peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, and cherries are on the table in one way or another. We make lots of cobblers in the summer, but this crisp was a welcomed change! It comes together very quickly (I used a food processor to cut the butter in), and we doubled the crumb mixture to have ready in the fridge for the next crisp.

We have an owl in our garden! He’s the new addition to keep away the critter muncha, munchas (ugh!). We’re trying to improve on the long-standing odds of:

One for the blackbird,

One for the crow,

And that will leave

Just two to grow.

with love. Damaris

Welcome to the Mountains (Trip Part 2)

Photo Credit: Nathan

Upon arrival to our little mountain town, we stop for the freshest spring water that runs uninterrupted. We fill jugs and water bottles for a few days’ supply. Crystal Springs is our first stop, and we frequent it on numerous walks during our stay.

The old ski road is as bumpy a ride as ever! The cabin is waiting for us on the right. Plain and tall, it’s large door stands locked. We’re the first to break the winter fast, and no doubt, fill it with all manner of happy sounds! First things first, the children pick a flag, and Nathan raises it high over the top deck. We often see this flag peering amid the trees on our hikes.

Photo Credit: Nathan

Making and filling the humming bird feeders in another first day ritual. Nathan and Eva follow a recipe for “juice” (sugar water) that will keep the humming birds busy at the three feeders. Ruby Throated and bronze Rufus had been watching in the pine trees, no doubt. The “honeybirds,” as Nora calls them, buzz by so close to us the instant Nathan hangs the feeders!

A hike to Big Rock, which is a large boulder out-crop about 500 ft. in elevation above the cabin, is the most celebrated and anticipated tradition. Nathan reads a Psalm at the summit, but this year we recited Psalm 121.

Unload, unload, and unload some more – we’re ready to call it a day, except, of course, a visit to the outhouse. Nathan says that a visit to the outhouse makes you fit for the mountains (no, thanks!).

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

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

Family Currents

With all of our hiking in the Rocky Mountains, I was so glad to have these shorts for the little girls. They could wade in creeks then dry quickly as we trekked again. If the shorts had gotten very dirty, I would wash them in the sink, and they’d be dry in no time. I sized down because they are boy’s shorts – otherwise the size they regularly wear was too big.

photo credit: Alexander

A couple of the children have been receiving summer tutoring in reading and math, and we can see improvement! The slower pace of the summer schedule has allowed us the more focused attention on only these two subjects.

photo credit: Daddy

This drinking bottle was perfect! One of the things that we make sure we all have before our Colorado trips is water bottles. The mouth opening is small so the water wouldn’t spill out the sides when trying to drink in the car on a bumpy ride. I always got wet with all my previous water bottles! Another favorite thing about this bottle is that it doesn’t have any condensation with cold drinks, which means no more wet messes in my bags! I forgot to mention that it keeps drinks cold and hot for many, many hours!

I was so glad to have this wonderful organic healing balm on hand during our trip! The dry mountain air always causes more wind-chapped faces and dried lips. I also used it for baby’s rashy bottom, to soften scabs on kids’ knees, and on my cuticles! It’s smell isn’t the pleasantest, but it’s the cure-all around here.

P.S. Full blog posts on the trip coming soon!

with love. Damaris