Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 5: Camping at Pawnee, CO

Menu: Beef Kabobs, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fat Tire (in a can); Pancakes (fluffy and perfectly golden brown, cooked by my brother) and sausage; Super-Good Turkey Sandwiches, Ripe Strawberries, Boulder Slaw, and Chips n’ Dip

We drive up through Estes, the hot air cooling as we went. One of the benefits of camping with a camper is pulling over at the side of the road when hungry. At a pulloff, we opened up the camper, got out the chairs, made some sandwiches and looked at a meadow and the back of Long’s Peak while the girls entertained themselves in the camper playing. The side of that road felt a long way away from STL.

The temperature dropped as we climbed to 10,300 feet, the road opening to a view of a lake with snow-covered peaks behind it. We set up camp at a wooded site, cracked open a beer, and then went for a walk. I say “walk” because hiking is not exactly hiking with two kids under eight and a dog that has been cooped up in the back of a truck all afternoon. Still, the walk was nice. It’s easy to forget how awesome, in the truest sense of the word, mountains can be. Mountains are obvious, and very few people will ever argue against their beauty, and yet we take it for granted. It’s stunning to think how long it takes them to form, how they do so by the plates crashing and rubbing against one another, how they are further sculpted by water rushing down them...

It was nice to remember. Camping, like several other things in life (fireworks, fireflies, batting cages, laughing with your family) remains the same no matter how old you get. Bugs still bite you. Everything still tastes better when cooked over a flame (even when you don’t like marshmallows). You’re bound to be too hot or too cold (it went from super hot to cold, cold, cold-- about 50 degrees). And yet, you just don’t care. We played Uno with the girls. The adults had beer by the fire. When it was time to sleep, I bundled up in my fleece and sleeping bag and loved that just my face was cold (and loved having a bathroom in the camper, eliminating the need to put on shoes and a headlamp to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night). It was fantastic... and the food even better.

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